These ideas will get your hands dirty! Community gardens are growing in popularity and offer the opportunity to grow your own food. Some Tidy Towns groups choose to donate their produce to the local elderly or Home Economics students. Other projects grew dispersed urban orchards, planted wildflowers and greenways to allow biodiversity and especially pollinators to flourish and thrive in their community. A commitment to building bird boxes, bat boxes and insect hotels as well as the strong ethos of avoiding the usage of pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers has all helped the soil and local ecosystems to bloom. In 2017, Ennis Tidy Towns along with the CE Scheme, grew a community garden. They also developed their own water collection and compost system, of which local people were shown how to recreate. Ennis also, planted wild flowers and perennials flowers that make a habitat for pollinators and provide local people with flowers for their private dwellings.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Campaigns for recycling bins along the roads instead of only landfill bins could have a huge impact on our community waste. One past project educated school students about how much of Irish recycling goes to landfill because it was not properly cleaned before entering the system. The contaminated material accounts for more than 30% of Irish recycling.
Resources redistribution can include waste food being collected from local supermarkets, restaurants and hotels being composted or giving to those in need!
Food isn’t the only thing that can be redistributed! Children’s craft supplies are often waste products from home. All of these goods can be upcycled into creative resources for local schools and youth groups. Our winner of 2017, Ballycanew, used waste products to create village furniture such as an old bed frame to a village bench.
Campaigns for cycle lanes could increase the rate of cyclists and easy commuter congestion. A cycle lane offers a safer route for people to travel without cars and encourages a healthier lifestyle. Arranging Walk on Wednesday or Bike of Friday school days encourages walking and cycling from a young age. Giving priority or discounted parking fees to those who carpool to work or university can also reduce the carbon output of a community. In 2015, Blackrock, Co Louth Tidy Towns, campaigned the ESB to install an electric car charging point in Blackrock to be usable for travellers through the town and locals who have or will purchase electric cars. They also, organised for a local owner of an electric car to give a presentation in a primary school to show the children how these cars work.
Bike Buffet – Westport 2016
Westport Tidy Towns in Co. Mayo aimed to encourage cycling rather than driving in their community. One of many innovative events that they hosted was called Bike Buffet. This event brought the community together in a group cycling tour. The route takes the participants around Westport stopping off at various dining venues to taste the menu. This not only prompts bike usage rather than driving, promotes local businesses but also gathers the community as a unit in a fun and motivating manner. The Bike Buffet has proved so popular that eleven have been hosted between 2015 and 2016. This idea could be improved by having locally harvested food served at the venues to market growing and eating home-grown and information points could be placed along the route to encourage usage outside of organised events.
Local Climate Change Expo
Westport also hosted workshops in two local secondary schools on climate change. One of these schools when one step further and after receiving the workshop, they hosted their own Climate Change Expo. They made posters explained what climate change is and helpful environmental friendly tips. The display stayed up for a month to ensure a lasting impact.
Inter-Generational Climate Debate
A Climate Change Conference was held in Monaghan (2016) in a large hotel with guest speakers from the EPA; non-governmental organizations (Irish branches and from abroad). An inter-generational debate held as part of the conference, included secondary schools students and grandparents. Such a model could be replicated in many towns across the country or as part of planning for the National Climate Change Dialogue.
‘Hippo Bags’ Dromiskin water conservation measure in 2016
During a Resource Management Information Evening Junior Tidy Towns Committee members distributed a total of 118 ‘Hippo Bags’ to local residents. Each Hippo Bag saves between 2 & 3 litres of water per toilet flush. This initiative may, in the Committee’s view (assuming a 2.5 litre saving on an average of 10 flushes per day as a conservative estimate) save as much as 2,950 litres per day, 20,650 litres weekly (7 days) and over 1 million litres annually.