My name is Chris, I live mostly in Leitrim but sometimes my work takes me around the country for days or weeks at a time. I work as an ecologist, doing habitat surveys before infrastructure projects as well as continuous environmental monitoring for ongoing works. I’m from Wexford, Ireland.
What sparked your interest in sustainable living and where did you start?
I first became interested in sustainability in secondary school (around 2012), though I was raised to be aware of things like recycling, being responsible for your waste and making my own meals from scratch. In college I became more conscious about living sustainably, cycling more, eating less meat, and reducing waste produced. There were a lot of awareness campaigns at the time and studying natural science made me more aware of reducing impacts on the environment.
What keeps you motivated?
There is enough evidence behind the need for more sustainable living that it makes sense to me to get on board. When I see plastic waste around me, it makes me want to buy less plastic, when I smell and breathe polluted air it motivates me to use my bike more. I can empathise with animals and see/read about the effects of livestock agriculture and it makes me want to buy less animal products. I read about the problems associated with fast fashion, cheap food etc. and it makes me more conscious of my overall consumption.
What is a sustainable change you have made that makes you really happy?
I don’t eat meat anymore and I cycle instead of driving where feasible. I track my non-recyclable waste each month to try and get a picture of what I am producing.
The meat wasn’t a big sacrifice, and it’s made me more interested in cooking and food (though I will forever miss chicken nuggets). I love cycling and since I started I have learned a lot about bike maintenance and it has become an unexpected hobby. Trying to produce less and less landfill waste each month has become kind of a fun game for me. I know it will fluctuate over time but that’s alright, it’s more about awareness than reaching zero-waste, which would be ideal but is perhaps unrealistic (good luck finding tofu that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic).
Are you tackling any sustainable changes at the moment you’d like to share or are planning to?
I’d like to see if I can travel around the world without flying, that would be a pretty cool life goal but obviously it’s hard to predict the future. I have considered going vegan but I don’t think that I really need to – I have access to chickens for eggs and try to make sure that the dairy I consume is somewhat ethically sourced, which is easy enough in Ireland as cows here have a pretty good standard of living. I would like to drive less but I need my car for work so I would like to get a hybrid/electric car when my current model dies, but that depends on my economic position.
What would you like to see in a sustainable future?
A lot less air travel, maybe everyone has a certain number of air miles they can spend per year or flying just becomes very expensive. No fossil fuel-powered vehicles – electric or ethanol-powered cars would be commonplace, with buses and HGVs running on biogas or biodiesel and better light and heavy rail infrastructure. Meat should start to become a luxury product and more biodiversity measures are incorporated into new construction. No more petroleum-based plastic, it all should and can be bio-based.
If one of your friends told you they wanted to start living more sustainably, what would be your top tip to get started?
Start tracking their personal impacts (where possible), e.g. how much waste they produce, how far they travel by car, how much meat, imported products they consume, how much they spend on technology, clothing etc. per year. It takes a little bit of work but it creates a foundation for change and makes people think. Beyond that, just read about sustainability and maybe consider eating a bit less meat per week. Imagine if everyone in Europe ate 1kg less meat per month, that’s quite achievable and would result in around 750 thousand tonnes less meat consumed per month.
…And For a bit of fun and… really find out about you…What was your first concert or your first CD/Tape/Record you owned?
First concert was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers but the first CD I listened to a lot was The Very Best of Nina Simone.
Chris’ favourite sustainable shop/brand/cafes:
I really like Tony’s Chocolonely, fairtrade chocolate with an anti-slavery mission (there’s a scary amount of forced and child labour involved with chocolate produciton). Flahavan’s Oat drinks are quite good and sourced in Ireland.
Thank you Chris!