A New Year’s resolution worth the name — reducing carbon footprint

A New Year’s resolution worth the name — reducing carbon footprint

An aquaintance posted on Facebook the other day that his New Year’s resolution for 2019 was to “go as far as possible towards fossil fuel free living”.

I thought it was brilliant, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s an awful lot more interesting than saying you’ll save money or lose weight or be less judgmental — none of which you’ve a hope in hell of achieving.

Secondly, it’s measurable and easily achieved with any number of small lifestyle changes, like walking or cycling to the shops rather than always, reflexively, getting into the car, or getting a reusable cup rather than always getting a disposable cup with your coffee.

Thirdly, it’s a wonderful call to arms, an exhortation for us to spark our imaginations and get innovative in a way that could be fun.

Finally, it’s a sort of declaration that you’re not going to wait around for the government who are particularly useless on the environmental front.

It’s an example where, I believe, they are deaf to the genuine will of the people.

I regularly meet people of all ages and backgrounds who are exuberantly enthusiastic about all the advances of the past decade (technological and otherwise) that reduce our usage of fossil fuels.

Whether it’s electric cars or scooters, or insulating our homes, solar panels, or extensions to the Luas, we’re all for it.

There’s a strong inherent understanding that that which makes our lives cleaner also improves the quality of our lives — like cycling infrastructure vs traffic jams.

The internet is bristling with brilliant ideas from all over the world — fellas in Ecuador building houses with 50,000 recycled plastic bottles, or a woman in Copenhagen who lets people rent out her kayak for nothing if they clean the sea with it.

And closer to home there’s the man in Maynooth who puts a bucket in the shower to collect water that he can reuse to flush the toilet or water his tomatoes, or a man I know who is re-engineering an old washing machine to turn it into a water turbine to provide electricity from the small stream running by his house.

In reality, those of us who like to tinker and potter with DIY solutions are only responding and embracing what’s coming.

The other day, the Wall Street Journal’s motoring columnist concluded that, on the basis of all available information, by the mid 2020s it will be economically disadvantageous to own a vehicle with an internal combustion engine — such is the expected improvement in electric vehicles in the coming years and their takeover of the market.

In fact, the writer, Dan Neil, went so far as to suggest that if you were planning on buying a new car in the next year or two with the intention of keeping it for five or six years, you might be as well to seriously consider an electric one — or be lumbered with a financial albatross.

There are a couple of small things I’m going to try to achieve in 2019.

For one, I’m going to develop a vegetable patch.

It is the easiest thing in the world to do, and accessible to essentially anyone with a window box, with no end of information and advice easily available. The more your food comes from your own garden, the less often you have to drive to a shop to buy cabbages that have been brought to your local Centra from god-knows-where.

It’s all good.

I’m also going to try to cycle to work more often. When the greenway finally gets out as far as Robertstown I’ll be on the pig’s back, but for the moment I’m limited for safety reasons to summer time when it’s daylight at either end of my working day.

It’s 15kms each way and easily done in about 40 minutes, sure if I lose a few inches off the gut as well as saving the planet, well no harm.