World Environment Day 2020

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World Environment Day took place this week and this year’s theme was #beatairpollution. Issues surrounding the environment were certainly prominent in the media over the past few days. Firstly, there was a stark reminder in the Irish Times that health risks are set to increase as climate change intensifies with a new report highlighting the elderly and sick children as two of the most vulnerable groups in this respect. There was also some new information on the plastics front with an article in the Guardian suggesting that we each ingest a staggering 50,000 plastic particles a year. This one is of particular concern given that the health effects of microplastics consumed via food, water and breathing are still largely unknown.

But back to this year’s theme. One of the biggest contributors to #airpollution is, of course, flying. Not only does this generate emissions but the damaging effect is also magnified due to the altitude planes fly at.  The obvious solution is for us all to fly a little less. However, that is more easily achieved in a mainland European country (such as Germany) with handy access to a vast rail network. It is not such a simple solution on an island such as Ireland.

You may be interested in reading this article in the New York Times which poses the question ‘If seeing the World helps ruin it, should we stay home?’.  If you do choose to fly, one way to help offset your carbon emissions is by paying a price to plant more trees and here is another interesting article from the BBC that covers information on the pros and cons of this.

This World Environment Day may have focused on the important issue of air pollution but it also gives us all a timely reminder to pause and take stock of how we interact with the environment around us on a day to day basis. Here are some handy tips to cut your energy usage in the home:

  • Turn off lights and power switches when not in use – Doing this alone can help to cut a whopping 20% of your annual energy bill!
  • Install a smart thermostat -This can help eliminate energy waste by turning off or reducing heating and cooling systems when you are not in the home.
  • Insulate your home – This helps maximise your home’s capacity to contain the heat generated, reducing energy output and ultimately saving you money.
  • Consider renewable energy – Renewable energy sources can do more than just reduce your energy bills. In some cases, they can even generate a surplus which you can then sell back to your energy provider! Solar thermal, heat pumps and biomass are just some of the options that may be suitable for you depending on the conditions in your home. Check out this link to learn more.

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