Simple Steps to Sustainability 3

Over the summer months, I am attempting to give some really quite easy-to-implement steps that will improve the sustainability of your tourism activities, whether you are a provider, for example of accommodation, or a tourist.

For this third instalment, I’m going to look at :

1. Water

2. Detergents

3. Signage

Water –

By reducing the pressure at which your water travels around your property, you will save money and reduce water consumption. Think about it – you may not be able to limit the length of time guests spend in the shower, but you can reduce the water consumed each time.

Also, install ‘push down’ or PR-activated taps, wherever possible. Such taps bring to an end the problem of taps left running, which waste water.

If you don’t have dual-flush toilet cisterns, install them once feasible. If that can’t be done in the short term, place used 500 ml water bottles in the cistern, with stones in, to reduce the flush volume.

Detergents –

Ecover ecological cleaning products

Ecover ecological cleaning products

‘Ecological’ detergents, such as Ecover, contain fewer or no environmentally damaging phosphates than regular cleaning products. Irish brands include Lilly’s Eco Clean.

These products will certainly cost a little more than regular brands, but simply reduce the quantity employed each time to compensate.



Signage –

Nice signage made of wood, Poland

Nice signage made of wood, Poland

If you are responsible for erecting tourism information signs, please do consider the material you employ, as well as languages.

Wood, from a sustainably managed source, looks much more attractive than metal and blends into the environment better. Protect it from rain, especially here in Ireland.

Also, here in Ireland, do always use both our national languages – that too will help in the sustainability of Gaeilge.


The Garden of Ireland

On Monday of this week, I was lucky enough to find myself in Wicklow – a rare trip across the country to The Garden of Ireland.


U-nail studded railway sleeper boardwalk at The Wicklow Gap

U-nail studded railway sleeper boardwalk at The Wicklow Gap

Over the Wicklow Gap I went, down through Laragh, with its wonderful broadleaf and well-spaced conifer forests and on towards Glenealy, to the beautiful and serene organic farm at Carraig Dúlra.

On their plot up on the hill, with impressive Red Kites soaring overhead, Mike and Suzie Cahn deliver organic farming training, specialising in how to grow fruit and vegetables. Indeed, my friend Tina Pommer, from Leitrim, will be giving a talk and walk on mushrooms over there sometime this coming autumn.


Coniferous forest with good ground vegetation at Laragh

Coniferous forest with good ground vegetation at Laragh

I was there to deliver an awareness course in Leave No Trace. I had a lovely day and would really recommend getting up to Carraig Dúlra, taking a practical, educational and, above all, interesting course in the outdoors of whichever type you prefer yourself. Mike and Suzie are excellent hosts, so you’ll have a great day.




Suzie talks about vegetable growing, Carraig Dúlra, Glenealy

Suzie talks about vegetable growing, Carraig Dúlra, Glenealy

Visit Carraig Dúlra’s website here.

Visit Leave No Trace Ireland here.

Simple Steps to Sustainability 2

Today, I want to look at three more areas, where you can improve the sustainability of your tourism enterprise or activities. Again, I’m trying to stick to basic and easy to implement steps. Today’s topics are :

1. Camping.

2. Lighting.

3. Composting.

Camping –

When adventuring outdoors, in areas of low tourism numbers and where there is no established campsite, try to follow these guidelines. First, do try to set up your tent in a spot where somebody already has done so. Why ? Because that area has already been somewhat ‘damaged’, perhaps with a burnt out spot where a fire had been lit. By using the same spot, you will not cause further unwanted damage to other areas which have remained pretty much pristine. If there is no such place and you simply cannot see any remains of previous campsites (lucky you !) then choose a place where the ground is durable, or tough and can take the pitching of your tent, without being impacted upon.

Try to light your fire by using a fire blanket covered in loose stones or pebbles some 10 cm deep, on top of which you then place your sticks. Avoid burning fires straight on the ground. Do not break branches from living trees and vegetation. Collect drift wood, twigs and dead leaves from the environment around you. Be very careful with fires.

Lighting –

LED bulbs use much less energy.

LED bulbs use much less energy.

Replace used standard bulbs with either CFL or, preferably, LED low-energy alternatives.

Your tourism establishment possibly burns quite a number of bulbs during the season. The higher cost per unit of these low-energy bulbs is quickly recovered by their much lower energy consumption when in use. One word of warning though : I do not recommend you change to either of these types of bulb for the work area in your kitchen. You need the superior bright light of standard bulbs to cut those carrots, rather than your fingers. But everywhere else, make that switch.

Composting –

Composting is not only a sustainable way of treating your non-cooked food waste – it is also fun.

Composting is great for your vegetable garden.

Composting is great for your vegetable garden.

Place your composter in partial sun. Too much sun makes the compost too dry and slow to deteriorate, while too little also slows down the process. Mix your ‘browns’ with your ‘greens’. Examples of browns would be shredded newspapers, egg boxes, dead leaves, bits of cardboard, etc. Use a good strong stick to mix up the compost regularly (I use a broken hurl). Do throw in things like avocado skins, egg shells and citrus fruit peels, but know they won’t break down entirely or as quickly as your regular apple cores, broccoli bits, tomato parts and so on.

If you build your own compost heap, by using pallets, then be sure to cover the heap with an old carpet, to keep it warm, as well as some black plastic , to keep it dry.

Simple Steps to Sustainability 1

Over the summer months, I’m going to attempt to give you some really quite simple steps to improve the sustainability of your tourism activities, whether you are a provider or a tourist.

Today, I will look at the following basic elements of your tour, business or home :

1. Electricity.

2. Walks.

3. Picnics.

Electricity –



Change from the ESB to Airtricity. Short and sweet. It’s that simple. Avoid Bord Gais. Both major electricity suppliers are burning pretty much always fossil fuels. Support Airtricity in its wind generated power. Call them and switch. It’s simple and it’s cheaper.


Walks –

Come walking with Tourism Pure

Come walking with Tourism Pure

Follow this simple rule. When you are out walking in the beautiful Irish countryside (or anywhere overseas for that matter), stick to the path, where there is one. This avoids plant damage and habitat loss. Look at it this way : where there is already damage, don’t add to it. However, where there is no path and you really need to get from A to B (like on a mountain) then do not all walk on the same line. Rather, spread out on eachother’s sides. That way, your impact is small and no path is created. Now you are walking through the landscape as would a herd of animals. Limited damage and no trace afterwards.

Picnics –

The easiest way to avoid dropping litter in the countryside is to not bring any in in the first place. When preparing a picnic for the family or group of walkers, remove the packaging before you leave the house. Use sturdy, re-usable, well sealed containers. Have the biscuits in one; the sandwiches in another. No packaging means no packaging to be carelessly dropped along the way. Re-use the same containers next time.

Green & Ecotourism Issue from Down Under

I like this divisive issue from Australia, because it encapsulates a lot of what is problematic and difficult about spreading the word of ‘ecotourism’, ‘green issues’, ‘environmentalism’, ‘conservation’ and whatever other terminology you’re having yourself.

When I say “I like”, I presume you know what I mean.

Greens slam Coast skywalk push (from and copywrite :

” GREEN group Gecko has written to Premier Anna Bligh and Gold Coast City Council heavyweights protesting against a Hinterland tourism project — before they’ve even seen it.

Slamming the idea of a skywalk at Purling Brook Falls as ‘yet another mass tourism’ project proposed for the Springbrook area, Gecko president Rose Adams wrote that the region should be protected from, and not enjoyed directly by, tourists.

Purling Brook Falls, Australia

Purling Brook Falls, Australia


“It is essential to guard the World Heritage values of this tiny plateau, especially when confronted by the unknown impacts of climate change,” wrote Ms Adams.

“We would argue that it is a place to provide genuine ecotourism, that is, tourism harnessed for conservation, rather than a mass tourist attraction such as a skywalk.”

The skywalk was one of several suggestions submitted in a tourism project wishlist for the Coast by Tourism Minister Desley Boyle and has not even been formally proposed.

But Gecko has requested instead an ‘eco centre’ at Nerang with ‘a world-class environmental science education and interpretive centre’.

Ms Adams said Gecko would not support any large attraction or visitor centre at Springbrook itself, as the area was already overrun and its roads did not support large coaches.

Local councillor Bob La Castra said he was not surprised by Gecko’s pre-emptive strike.

“They basically want to put a barbed-wire fence around anything that’s green and look at it but not tread on it,” he said.

Springbrook Chamber of Commerce president Wayne Randall said Gecko should wait to see any proposal before shooting it down. Businesses in the area were ‘going backwards’ and desperately needed a new attraction to lure visitors, he said.

Gold Coast Combined Chamber of Commerce president Bob Janssen said Gecko had tipped the scales too far in favour of conservation and that ‘balance’ was needed. “


But more interesting are some of the comments submitted to the site by readers, including …

” What else would they say & do. They will oppose anything that is not tree hugging. I have had a total gutfull of the ‘high & mighty greens. “

” Fear mongers and environmental pains in the rear. “

” Well done Gecko!!! Springbrook is very fragile, beautiful and worth preserving at all costs.It is a wonderful place to visit to get away from the over development of the Coast. It is one of the finest assets the Coast has and should be left for those that need a little peace and serenity. “


Ah yes, this kind of stuff is at the very heart of the fight for world tourism. More than that, it is the heart and soul of the argument for where the world goes in terms of global development. We could waste our time and energy talking about CFL bulbs, but this is about world domination. This is about education. This is about the survival of all animals and landscapes. This is about the basic human instinct to dominate, destroy.

Do we continue to move forward beating our chests ever harder, or do we cop on, begin to leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs and kill nothing but time ?

Learn a little about Springbrook National Park in Australia here.

Learn a little about Gecko here.

Some Interesting Blogs

I’ve had a quick sconce at these green blogs recently. Try them out if you have a few minutes.

Jessica Blair in the US presents you with her Green Gift a Day. Whether you can actually get any of these things in Ireland, or sent here, is another question.

While I don’t like the fact that the site seems to be anonymous (apologies to whoever if I haven’t seen where they do indeed identify themselves), nevertheless, there’s some good information in here.

The Blog of TIES, it actually has surprisingly little in it, with few entries. So this is not really a recommendation, rather just to let you know about it and keep an eye on it if you want.

Some nice articles. I’m not sure who the guy is and don’t know where he’s getting the articles from (maybe they’re his own), but still …