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What will holidays look like after Covid-19

In 2020, we washed our hands more than ever before. We embraced face masks, stopped wearing makeup and gave up long drinks and long lunches…

But one thing that most of us missed in 2020, was taking a holiday (or even a mini break!).

For the most part, we understood that it had to be done. A small sacrifice for the greater good. We were (most of us) happy that we were able to do our bit, stay at home and try to see the back of this virus together. But it doesn’t mean that we haven’t missed the trip down the country, or escaping to the sun (oh, the sun!)

As a new year dawns, so too, does the prospect of us being able to travel again. But travel, as we know it, just won’t be the same experience that it once was. Hang on, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

The World takes a break

We all know how hard the tourism industry (domestic and global) has been hit this year. Many business across the work depend on a booming tourism industry to support their economies. But one positive thing that we have seen as a result of people staying at home this year, is that the planet has finally had a chance to take a breath. Less traffic on our roads and in our skies means less pollution to our environment. Delicate ecosystems and UNESCO heritage sites across the world have basked in the natural quiet that we can inadvertently destroy whenever we visit.

We are starting to see travel differently

This year, more than ever before, people have started to look at  how they are spending their money. A new respect for our environment and the embracing of sustainable brands is becoming more important to us when making a purchasing decision. We believe that the same will be said for travel in 2021.

With the prospect of flights being more expensive than we have been used to (increased demand and appetite, along with airlines trying to re-coup their losses), we predict that people (at least for 2021/22) will travel abroad less. They will be more discerning about where they go and chances are, they will take longer holidays, which has been made possible by the recent working from home phenomenon.

One thing is certain, staycations will be big business in 2021

For me, getting on a plane, even for the weekend was far better than spending a fortune on dinner and drinks on a night out at home. I had become quite the shark at sussing out good value flights and last minute accommodation and it meant that I was taking an average of 6 trips abroad each year. Do I miss it? Absolutely. Will I do it again? Probably not.

But, will we really change?

Lets be honest, we neither have the weather, nor (for many of us), the space to be able to enjoy the outdoors that much in Ireland. This year, I bought a new mattress and a new sofa. I’ve tried to make indoors as cosy as possible, because it was where we were spending all of our time. But, what I wouldn’t give to be able to have dinner outside or a few drinks at the beach on a sunny afternoon.

So yes, I will be on a plane as soon as it is deemed safe to do so (and I’ll probably wait until a few months after that!), but I feel that the 2 day mini break is a thing of the past for me. Instead, I feel that heading away for 2 weeks where the sun shines and outdoor living is truly possible, is what I crave. A place where I can work and relax all at the same time, with an altogether simpler day to day existence. In time, I may push that to 3 weeks, if work commitments allow. I’d like to travel a little around while I’m there, rather than take a separate trip back in 2 months time.

The great outdoors

Diageo announces 10 year sustainability action plan

Diageo has just announced it’s new 10 year sustainability action plan, which has a range of 25 sustainability goals. They are calling it: Society 2030: Spirit of Progress plan.

The plan will focus on three core areas that Diageo has selected to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The three core areas on which the plan will focus are promoting positive drinking, championing inclusion and diversity, and pioneering grain-to-glass sustainability.

In Ireland, the Guinness and Baileys brands will lead the implementation of Diageo’s 2030 targets. Every drink produced will take 30% less water, the packaging will be 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable, and the production operations on the island of Ireland will become net carbon neutral.

St James Gate leads the way

Diageo Ireland had announced in September 2020 that the proposed Guinness Quarter development at St. James’s Gate aims to be Dublin’s first carbon neutral district (wow!)

As the first step in its net zero ambition, Diageo’s Scottish distilleries of Oban and Royal Lochnagar will both become carbon neutral by the end of 2020 and Diageo will aim to achieve net zero in India by 2025.

John Kennedy, Diageo’s President of Europe, Turkey and India, said: “Across our Irish operations, we have already demonstrated our commitment to sustainability with a massive focus on reducing our environmental footprint across carbon, water and waste. Recent achievements include a 32% reduction in CO2 emissions and halving water usage at St James’s Gate. Similarly, at our Baileys operation on Nangor Road 100% of the electricity supplied is renewable and zero carbon.”

Providing funding to start-ups

Diageo has also launched Sustainable Solutions, a global platform that will provide non-equity funding to start-up and technology companies in order to develop to help Diageo continue to embed sustainability in its supply chain and brands.

Designed to support small companies and entrepreneurs develop and commercialise their innovations, Diageo will share global resources and experience to unlock future potential for both partners.

We must act now

Chief sustainability officer and president, Diageo supply & procurement Ewan Andrew commented, “It is vital that we act now if we want to maintain the wonderful world we all live in. I’m proud that we have already halved our own carbon footprint and that we are going to push ourselves further by becoming carbon neutral by 2030. It feels fitting that we are leading the way with Oban and Royal Lochnagar distilleries, which will both be carbon neutral by the end of the year.”

If one of the most recognisable brands in the world can make good on their plans, it will be a great example for other brands to follow.

We applaud any global brands making steps in this direction.

Sustainable Travel Ireland offers free membership during Covid-19

Sustainable Travel Ireland, the country’s leading and longest-running sustainability training company for the tourism industry, has announced that it is waiving membership fees for the hard-hit tourism industry in this time of Covid-19.

Sustainable Travel Ireland has pledged to waive it’s fee to members for a period of 6 months from the time of sign up.

The organisation’s mission is to transform the Irish tourism industry into a regenerative business sector that respects and protects the environment. They also work to support local communities and by helping to make them better places for people to live and work in.

Globally, tourism accounted for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 to 2013*, making the sector a bigger polluter than the construction industry.

However, as tourism is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, the sector is vital to our economy (particularly in rural Ireland).

According to Fáilte Ireland**, tourism contributes €9.4 billion to the Irish economy and employment in the sector is approximately 260,000.

Tourists are also demanding for more environmentally friendly and sustainable products and the tourism industry now has an opportunity also to embrace this trend. A whopping 66% of global consumers and 73% of Millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable offerings. In the context of the tourism industry, 46% say they want green accommodation and 67% say they would pay more for it. ***

REPRO FREE The Burren Ecotourism Network has been named a ‘Best Community Tourism Project’ by Lonely Planet. 
PIC SHOWS: Noirín Hegarty, Lonely Planet; Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, Pic – Coalesce 

Speaking about Sustainable Travel Ireland’s announcement, Director Rob Rankin, stated:

“It seems really fitting that we are announcing the suspension of membership fees, hot on the heels of the Burren EcoTourism Network in County Clare being named Best Tourism Project in the Lonely Planet Best in Tourism list for 2021.

“The world has approximately one decade to restrict global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, or face the risk of floods, droughts and extreme heat worsening significantly. So the tourism industry, like every other, must change its ways, because, plain and simple, it’s the right thing to do. “But there is also a real opportunity here. There is huge demand from consumers for a cleaner, greener tourism product, and one that positively contributes to local communities. Ireland could be a true leader in this field and develop a tourism product that is unrivalled and brings in huge revenue.

“And while Covid-19 has decimated the tourism business, the pandemic has also forced us all to reassess our business models and the impact they are having on the planet. We must rebuild the tourism industry – it’s crucial to Ireland’s economy – but we must do it in a way that is sustainable.

“I am devastated that so many tourism businesses are closed or on pause now, including my own sister company Vagabond Tours, but the downtime is an invaluable opportunity to implement the sustainability changes that are vital to long-term viability and success. And that’s why we want to offer tourism businesses free sustainability training, to get them moving on this vital and rewarding journey to sustainability.”

Benefits of free Sustainable Travel Ireland membership include: 

  • Access to two free introductory online courses.
  • Member discounts on Sustainable Travel Ireland’s group carbon offset scheme (due to bulk purchasing).
  • Listing on the Sustainable Travel Ireland website.
  • Invitations to free webinars and discounted tickets for our paid series of webinars and annual conference.
  • Invitations to free webinars and discounted tickets for our paid series of webinars (20%).
  • Access to purchasing more member-only online training. Each online course costs a modest €35 + vat.
  • Ability to progress to Intermediate Member and gain a label for your website and marketing material to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability.
  • Ability to progress to Certified Member to bronze, silver and gold level as per the relevant criteria. This requires independent audit.
  • Relevant Global Sustainable Tourism Council-recognised criteria to use to work towards certification. Sustainable Travel Ireland is the only Irish company offering these internationally renowned GSTC-recognised criteria. The GSTC is a UN-mandated organisation.

Signing up to free membership is simple. Businesses just need to register here Sustainable Travel Ireland membership

Or for more information on becoming a member, please contact:

Roisin Finlay roisin@sustainabletravelireland.ie 087-9190687 or Lauren Keogh lauren@sustainabletravelireland.ie 087-4191732

* Research published in 2018 in Nature Climate Change found that worldwide, tourism accounted for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 to 2013. ** Fáilte Ireland’s Key Tourism Facts 2018 *** This Nielsen consumer behaviour study polled 30,000 consumers in 60 countries around the world.

Header image by Stephen Hylands

Carbon Offsetting, Salvation or Scam?

We have all heard the expression ‘carbon offsetting’ by now. But do we really understand what it means?

We hooked up with Call to Adventure, UK who have recently published an article on the pros and cons of Carbon offsetting and the things you might need to consider.
Below is their full article and findings.
Call to Adventure – Carbon Offsetting: Salvation or Scam

We all know that every action has consequences, and this extends to our environmental impact. A carbon footprint is a useful way to visualise our contribution to climate change, by adding up the carbon emissions of our lifestyles. This involves how we use energy, what we buy, eat, and how we travel.A person’s footprint can vary hugely depending on individual and societal choices. According to the World Economic Forum, the average UK citizen was responsible for 5.65 tons of CO2 emissions in 2016, while the average Indian citizen emitted only 1.57 tons. The USA topped the charts with a whopping 14.95 tons per citizen…no surprise there.We all know there are things we can do to reduce our personal footprint, such as changing our diets, swapping the car for a bike, and being thrifty with the central heating. Offsets provide another option: by funding projects that absorb (or prevent emissions of) greenhouse gases, you can theoretically shrink the impact of your footprint.‍

Cycling to work in london commute

Whether this ‘counts’ or not is a matter of opinion. The line has to be drawn somewhere. For instance, most people would say that voting for a greener government does not affect your personal footprint, even though in theory it could make a difference. Or what about convincing your friends to go veggie – does that count? Carbon footprints are a useful concept only up to a certain point, as they help us visualise our impact.

 

How does carbon offsetting work?

Offset projects tackle emissions in a variety of ways. Some focus their climate action on carbon capture, which involves directly removing CO2 or other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Trees are the most obvious examples of this. Others focus on preventing future emissions, such as by providing energy-efficient appliances, supporting renewable energy projects, carbon credits, or working on ways to capture greenhouse gases at the point of emission.

  • Planting trees – what everyone thinks of first, but isn’t thought to be the best immediate solution these days. Trees do capture carbon, but over many years, and are only effective if certain conditions are met.
  • Investment in energy efficiency – efficient cooking stoves for developing countries are popular; capturing methane gas released from landfill is another.
  • Investment in renewable energy – the future is in renewables, and contributing to such an offset project accelerates the transition.
  • Buying up carbon credits – some organisations (most notably the EU) have a finite number of carbon credits they can trade freely with one another, that give them permission to emit fossil fuels. By selling them, the emissions that that organisation is allowed to emit are reduced.
wind farm in the sea offset project

It’s also worthwhile thinking about the ‘side-effects’ of such offset projects. Occasionally these can be negative – tree planting on arable land isn’t often good news for farmers, for example – but most often they can be positive. For instance, improvements in energy efficiency can mean communities don’t have to spend so much on fuel, and suffer less from smoke-related disease. This is true of many ways of combating climate change. There is a huge amount of overlap between efforts to rein in carbon emissions and efforts to build a better, more equitable world.

 

Indulgences and infidelity: carbon offsetting controversy

There’s plenty of scepticism about whether carbon offsets are a legitimate strategy in trying to create a better world. It comes under criticism for several reasons.

The most common is that relying on carbon offsets could theoretically create a culture of complacency. In his piece Selling Indulgences, George Monbiot famously compared it to the practice of ‘indulgences’ that the Catholic Church condoned in centuries past, where the rich and powerful could pay the church to ‘offset’ their sin and allegedly shorten their time in purgatory once they’d kicked the bucket. Another scathing metaphor is made through the satirical Cheatneutral site, which offers to ‘offset’ your infidelity to your partner by paying another individual to remain faithful. Ouch.

Both these critiques play on the idea that our impact on the environment is a result of our moral choices, which should remain with us and only us. This is tied to the idea that this ‘easy fix’ means that we are not encouraged to change our own lifestyles. Initiatives are also mightily abused at the corporate level. For instance, oil giant Shell has a carbon offsetting initiative up and running, which is a blatant example of greenwashing: trying to make themselves appear eco whilst obviously being nothing of the sort.

no nature no future climate change protest

At the personal level, however, it’s potentially a different story. We currently live in a system where it’s hugely difficult to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle. In fact, offsets are likely the only way we can achieve this goal. It is also a way of engaging people with the issue of climate change, stimulating conversations and leading to knock-on positive lifestyle changes. Ultimately, changing public perceptions leads to systemic change – so it’s at least a step in the right direction.

 

How to (not) plant a forest

Tree planting is what immediately comes to mind when we think of carbon offsetting, but it may not be all it’s cracked up to be. People love the idea: forests springing up on our doorsteps, society reconnecting with nature, all of that good stuff. Politicians – even the world’s most famous anti-environmentalist Donald Trump – seize on the idea as an easy-to-grasp totem of green living. The theory is sound enough: everyone knows trees absorb CO2, promote biodiversity and provide a nice public space. So what’s not to love?

In environmental circles, tree-planting initiatives have come under a lot of flak recently. It turns out there are lots of wrong ways to plant a forest: sometimes the trees die, sometimes they’re the wrong species or in the wrong place, sometimes overzealous loggers cut them all down a few years later anyway. And then, it’s always possible that if we just left the land alone, a forest might spring up of its own accord anyway – and for free (albeit on a longer time scale).

Rainforest and waterfall carbon lock in

This isn’t to say that planting trees is worthless, but it just has to be done carefully and with plenty of forethought. The Trillion Trees project provides an ambitious and inspiring vision of a tree-laden future. However, tree planting is rarely the most immediately effective offset project available and other initiatives are potentially more effective.

 

The unfortunate lack of a crystal ball

It’s always difficult to tell the true value of offset projects. Let’s take a theoretical example: a certain community in a developing country depends on oil and gas for its energy supplies. A carbon offset initiative paid for by rich Westerners provides acres of solar panels that provide all their energy needs, and at a cheaper cost. Pretty great, right?

Well, yes, but this is where things get complicated. What might have happened in a parallel universe where this offsetting initiative didn’t exist? It may be that the local government or a humanitarian NGO provided funding for the same solar panels. If this would have happened anyway, have the emissions truly been ‘offset’? One study for the European Commission found that three-quarters of offset projects may fall into this category; in other words, the savings would have happened with or without the offset initiative.

However, relying on this narrative can lead us down the garden path to stagnation. We quickly reach an impasse if every would-be do-gooder is waiting on someone else to take the lead. It also doesn’t embrace the bigger picture. Back to the solar panels example, if the offset project pays for them, that frees up budget for the local government to invest in something else – education, for instance. There’s always a bigger picture.

 

Why carbon offsetting is (can be) suspiciously cheap?

The price of offsetting a tonne of carbon dioxide is not very much – one 2016 estimate put it at an average of $3.30 per tonne (although some initiatives, such as the ones we use, can be more costly). This means the average UK citizen could offset their entire annual carbon footprint for about £15. If emissions are such bad news, but they can be offset so cheaply, why don’t governments and companies just do it as a matter of course?

That is an extremely good question, particularly for the guilty governments and companies in question. Some people even use this as a reason not to offset: why is it up to us to pay up to cover governments’ shortcomings? Most countries signed up to the climate targets of the Paris Agreement, after all.

Solar panels renewable energy carbon off set

Although we should absolutely hold governments to account, taking this high horse and not offsetting yourself doesn’t help anybody. It’s a bit like not tipping the waitress because you believe their salaries should be higher. On a societal level, you might be right, but it’s a surefire way to make yourself unpopular without advancing the cause.

One reason is that offsetting is fairly cheap at the moment because not that many people do it, so there are plenty of effective initiatives for little cost – ‘low-hanging fruit’, if you like. In theory, as the world becomes more serious about offsetting emissions, these easy options will get used up and the cost of offsetting will steadily rise. Technological breakthroughs may also bring down the future cost of offsetting too, but we’re not there yet.

Because it can be so cheap, you could also consider offsetting your emissions several times over. Why stop at carbon neutral if you can reach carbon negative? If you can afford it, why not cover the carbon emissions of your neighbour too? While not an ideal solution by any means, it’s a quick and easy way to put the world on a better path.

What are the best carbon offsets?

There are plenty of good carbon offsetting initiatives out there, so the one you pick often comes down to personal choice. You do, however, want to make sure you avoid the less legitimate ones that don’t deliver on their promises. There are a couple of accreditation organisations that help make this job easier for you.

The voluntary Gold Standard is considered the most rigorous standard by many, and prides itself on quantifying carbon savings as accurately as possible. It also emphasises projects that have added benefits for communities, economies and more.

The Verified Carbon Standard is another decent one to look out for. It’s not quite as well-known as the Gold Standard, but has a similar level of rigour and is more accessible for smaller projects. Such on-the-ground initiatives are worth supporting and often bring big benefits to local communities.

Although neither of these are always perfect, any offset initiative that is accredited by one (or both) is a pretty good bet that your money is going to the right place.

 

Call to Adventure offsets all of its/your international travel emissions. Our initiative of choice is Carbon Footprint, which supports a huge range of international carbon reduction projects. All its Community Projects are Gold Standard certified, and many fulfil the Verified Carbon Standard too, not to mention a number of other accreditation offsets.

African women collect wood to burn

Some of its stand-out offset projects include:

  • Fuel-efficient cookstoves in North Darfur. Wood has a high economic and environmental price in this drought-stricken region, so saving on burning costs brings big benefits. It also helps reduce smoke-related health issues, makes savings for households’ energy budget, and empowers local women. This not only helps to reduce emissions and offset carbon but also forward sustainable development.
  • Ceramic water purifiers in Cambodia. Boiling water to make it safe for drinking requires burning fuel, usually wood in this part of the world. This releases greenhouse gases and noxious substances (such as carbon dioxide), contributes to deforestation, and leads to smoky, unhealthy homes. Purifiers combat this by helping to reduce emissions, forward sustainable development, and with conservation of rainforest and lower rates of respiratory disease.
  • Hydropower plant in Chile. Locally-generated hydroelectric power is a renewable source of energy that replaces combustion of fossil fuels, and also provides jobs and other economic benefits for local communities.
  • We look for projects that do the ‘most good’ with each additional pound of funding so we look for carbon offsets that also help reduce emissions, focus on renewable energy but also bring social good and help alleviate poverty.

Since day one we’ve also been a proud member of 1% For The Planet, which means we donate 1% of our gross sales (not profit) to support environmental non-profit organisations. Lots of businesses are known for being unscrupulous, and we are glad not to be one of them. By supporting business models like ours, you can send a message that this is what the consumer wants.

Lessons to learn

So is carbon offsetting worth it? The short answer is yes, absolutely, if your emissions are unavoidable. It’s not as good as preventing these emissions altogether, but it’s certainly better than doing nothing (your support also goes a long way to helping local communities).

What counts as ‘unavoidable’ is up to you. If your adventurous spirit requires an international flight to feel satisfied, or you would simply perish without your daily portion of cheese, that’s your call. Just make sure it gets offset at the least; and, even better, use that to start a conversation about how we can all change our lifestyles – and the bigger system – to make the world a better place.

Article written and published here:

Call to Adventure, UK Carbon Offsetting, Salvation or Scam

The best place for an afternoon cocktail in Dublin these days

These days, it’s hard to remember those long evenings gossiping with friends over a few cocktails. Or a couple of glasses of wine on a Saturday afternoon that turned into more than a couple…

Like many of you, we are still apprehensive about being in public spaces right now. We all feel a responsibility to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe. With most of our usual haunts in Dublin City closed, it’s hard to find somewhere that we can go for a few drinks and still feel safe.

With the current government restrictions of only 15 people seated outdoors, many cafes and restaurants have struggled to stay open. Let’s be honest, we don’t have a huge choice of comfortable outdoor spaces in Dublin (or anywhere in the country for that matter), because we simply don’t have the weather of our European friends.

But, over the past few weeks, we have seen our local restaurants putting tables on the streets in the hope of attracting business during this time. And who could blame them. Our local businesses are really struggling right now to keep their doors open any safe way that they can. However, in most cases, as soon as the rain comes (and you know that it will), staff are dashing outside to grab the furniture and try to settle customer bills before everyone gets soaked.

But if you know where to look, there are some great outdoor spaces in Dublin City Centre that you can have a drink and food in comfort, without compromising anyone’s safety.

We have spoken about the Trinity City Hotel here before, because we feel that it is often a venue that gets forgotten by Dubliners. But, with it’s position just off Grafton Street, they have had a busy summer attracting visitors with great overnight rates.

However, what has become the hottest place in town these days, are their fabulous outdoor spaces (Yes, they have two!).

Following the government guidelines, the Trinity Hotel can comfortably seat you and yours in either the Brunswick Lounge or their Courtyard Garden and non-residents are welcome!

We love the Courtyard Garden, but they do serve food pretty much all day in both terraces. It’s a casual enough menu, which is exactly what you want, of an afternoon. And for such a fancy, city centre location, the cocktail prices are far from expensive. My choice of Tanqueray and Tonic is under a tenner. Both terraces are fully heated (lovely!) so cosiness is guaranteed, whatever the weather!

The signature Bramble Cocktail awaits…

Keeping ourselves safe and doing everything we can to prevent the spread of Covid-19 should be our top priority right now. But there are ways we can do that while still supporting the local economy and engage in a little socialising too.

That’s why places like the Trinity City Hotel are doing so well right now and we wish them well.

Check out (or check in!) the Trinity City Hotel on Pearse St, Dublin 2. The Courtyard Garden at Trinity City Hotel

We recommend the Courtyard seating and the chicken wings!

SuperValu wins big at Blás na hÉireann Awards

Ireland’s largest grocery retailer, took home a massive 119 Blás Na hÉireann awards at the virtual awards ceremony this week.

SuperValu Own Brand and its exclusive brand producers picked up 53 awards– winning 14 Gold, 23 Silver and 16 bronze.

SuperValu Signature Tastes won 27 top-tier awards; the highest number of top tier awards won by any supermarket. In addition, SuperValu’s Food Academy producers picked up 66 awards – 21 Gold, 23 Silver and 22 Bronze.

ABOUT BLAS NA HEIREANN AWARDS

This is the 13th year of the Blas na hEireann awards which are recognised as the biggest annual competition for quality Irish produce across the island of Ireland. The Blas awards are the biggest blind tasting of produce in the country, and the criteria on which the product is judged as well as the judging system itself, which was developed by Blas na hEireann with the Food Science Dept. of UCC, is now recognised as an international industry standard.

The prestigious awards recognise and celebrate the very best in Irish food and drink and SuperValu’s continued success at the awards, with over 573 accolades in the last five years alone, shows the commitment SuperValu has to the very best quality Irish food.

Now in its 13th year, the Blás Na hÉireann awards is the biggest annual competition for quality Irish produce across the island of Ireland with thousands of products entered hoping to win Gold, Silver or Bronze Awards across 100 food and drink categories. Ray Kelly, Interim Managing Director, SuperValu said,

“2020 has been another excellent year for SuperValu at the Blás Na hÉireann awards with a total of 119 awards; including 66 awards for our Food Academy producers. At SuperValu we are committed to supporting more Irish food producers than any other retailer and in delivering the best quality products for our customers, over 75% of products on SuperValu shelves are sourced or produced in Ireland. It’s been another great year for our local producers and at a time when we are encouraging the country to shop local it is great to support and stock these award-winning brands and see them receive the recognition they deserve.”

SuperValu is committed to supplying customers with unrivalled, quality Irish products across its award-winning own brand range and Food Academy and winning 119 of the coveted Blás na hÉireann is proof of that. The SuperValu Own Brand awards this year included; the SuperValu Hazelnut Praline Éclair, SuperValu 48 Hour Marinated Irish Rotisserie Chicken, SuperValu Gourmet Sausage Roll with Honey & Mustard, SuperValu Cowboy Steak from the Butcher Counter and SuperValu Hi – Protein Bread, which all took home Gold Awards.

SuperValu Food Academy is a unique food business development programme between SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). Participants in the programme receive training in market research and branding, food safety, marketing, finance and business development. Food Academy producers have sold a combined €140 million of produce in SuperValu since 2014, supporting 1,500 jobs in the economy.  To date, 620 producers have come through the programme, with 272 producers currently enrolled in the programme.

To find out more about SuperValu initiatives, check out SuperValu’s Latest News

Is the cool, new Opel Corsa-e a game changer?

Why doesn’t everyone drive an electric car? That was the question put to me by my 7-year-old niece recently.

Why indeed.

The answer of course, is that right now, for many, it simply isn’t practical or affordable. The EV market continues to grow, but the options are still expensive. However, with new models hitting the market with increased frequency, it is certainly making electric cars hard to ignore.

Not that we would want to. Because apart from the obvious, positive impact it has on our CO2 emissions and our environmental good health, owning an electric car comes with far less day to day financial outlay than their petrol and diesel counterparts.

Up until recently, the brands making waves in the EV market (Tesla etc), were at the top end of the market, making the initial purchase price out of bounds for lots of us. And for those of us looking to purchase a decent second-hand car, going electric just doesn’t give us enough choice right now.

What we have all been waiting for, is an affordable, practical, everyday car that gives us all of the good bits of going electric (good for the environment, less impact on our pocket), but also has the reliability of decent range and an acceptable re-sale value.

We have seen a few in the last year or two, the Kona and the Zoe being two of our favourites.

Personally, I have been looking out for something that brings all of the practicalities of driving electric, but I’d also like it to look pretty cool. (I’ve driven the (older) Nissan Leaf and while I liked the drive, I felt like my mother in law getting her first driving lesson at age 65).

So far, I’ve tended to see a lot of the Electric cars on offer to be practical, but lacking in style.

Enter the new Opel Corsa-e.

Forget your previous images and impressions of the Opel Corsa. This is something very, very different. Firstly, it looks bigger, funkier, cooler. It just looks like a car that means business. It’s a contender, not a compromise.

Opel are claiming a range of 330 Km, but my research has said it’s likely to average closer to 280Km. Which is still okay and absolutely fine for those using it for shorter city / suburban trips. It will still get from Dublin to Galway on a full charge. Putting it into Sport mode doesn’t deplete the battery that much either, according to Opel. Good to know. You can charge it fully in just over 7 hours and if you have access to a ‘dash’ charger, you can get to 80% in half an hour.

And with a price range starting at just over €27K with grants and VRT relief, it will certainly be a contender for those looking to make their first journey into the EV market.

Frankly, it’s the first of the smaller EV cars I have seen that I’d be happy to go out and buy.

Check out the full feature list here: New Opel Corsa-e

Or visit the Windsor dealer network Windsor.ie

Greg Gaughran, Wasted.ie

SSE Airtricity and Microsoft team up with solar panels for schools

In the latest initiative from SSE Airtricity to invest in their Generation Green mission.

They have just announced a partnership with Microsoft to install internet-connected solar panels on 27 schools across the country.

Microsoft and SSE Airtricity have just announced their partnership together in helping Irish schools to save energy and reduce the country’s carbon footprint. Microsoft and SSE Airtricity are investing almost €1m in the project, which will see the 27 schools powering classrooms using energy generated from their own roofs. The companies have also said that the new rooftop solar panels on the 27 schools will help to generate enough electricity for 68 homes for a full year.

By installing the rooftop panels in primary and secondary schools in Leinster, Munster and Connaught, the new partners expect to offset 2.1m kg of CO2 emissions over the next 15 years. The panels will be connected to cloud platform Microsoft Azure.

SSE Airtricity managing director Klair Neenan said she is looking forward to supporting the schools “on their decarbonisation journey”.

“This new collaborative project will allow students throughout Ireland to see first-hand how sustainability and renewable energy can combine to help fight the climate emergency, while also benefitting their school and community on a daily basis,” she explained.

Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland, Cathriona Hallahan has said “By harnessing the power of technology, we can live out our mission in a way that protects our planet and our local communities. Collectively we can take a step in the right direction and harness the power of innovative technology that will help generate renewable energy and go some way towards offsetting carbon emissions.”

Education first

But the project doesn’t end there. Digital screens have been set up in the schools so students can track the real-time energy use of the panels and pupils can visualise the energy generated and how it impacts their environment.

They will also complete an interactive three-part learning programme on the climate emergency and the role technology can play in creating more sustainable communities across the country.

 

 

 

Header Image from Pexels (Gustavo Fring)

Government announces €28 million for sustainable community projects

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) announces the plan to allocate €28m of new grants for community energy projects, allowing successful communities to benefit from warmer and healthier buildings, lower energy bills, and reduced harmful CO2 emissions.

The grants will support projects with a total investment value of almost €74 million, as well as delivering significant employment benefits locally and nationally.

Grants on offer in the community include €4.3 million specifically for projects delivering aggregated home retrofit upgrades.

Eamon Ryan, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment,  said: “We are supporting people to improve their homes and buildings so they will be more comfortable and waste less energy. We are expanding retrofit work, creating new green sustainable jobs in communities across Ireland and helping to grow companies. We are also cutting emissions thereby delivering a better environment for all of us.

“I intend to use funding from the recently-announced July stimulus package to expand the Communities scheme so we can further grow the retrofit sector and benefit many more people in the months and years ahead.”

William Walsh, CEO of SEAI said: “The SEAI is working with hundreds of energy communities across the country, providing them with the knowledge and the means to plan their own ambitious low-carbon pathway.

“Government-funded grants are a key support for communities ready to invest in sustainable energy solutions to meet their needs. The achievements of these communities can be replicated, drawing more citizens into Ireland’s clean energy transition.”

Saturday night takeaway? Veggie Ragu Cheat Recipe

Vegetarian Ragu – Try it for yourself!

Everyone loves a good Ragu (or Spaghetti Bolognese), so for research purposes, we tried this veggie option from Quorn.

We wouldn’t dream of saying that it’s the same as a Ragu you will get in Bologna, but it’s a very good alternative that’s very easy to make at home.

We have started to make this every week since we have been eating our less (!) and we love it! If you have a little bit of patience to let everything simmer nicely over a few hours, it really is worth it! And it tastes even better the next day, or the day after that. We get about 6 portions from this.

Ingredients

  • 300g Quorn Mince
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, very finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200g mushrooms such as mini portabellos, diced
  • 2 tbsp red pesto
  • 400ml tomato passata
  • 1 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 150ml hot water
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 500g fresh spaghetti – Note: Italian’s will always use Rigatoni, never spaghetti
  • Hard cheese of your choice, grated to serve (optional)

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