Up to 2018, separate awards schemes operated for Climate Action projects, and Air Quality projects. These have now been combined into a single Climate Action and Clean Air special award, but looking back at previous winners can still provide inspiration as regards what worked well then, and what can still work well now.
Climate Action Award Winners
Awareness campaigns are very important in tackling climate change and wider environmental issues in Ireland. Spreading information on what climate change is and simple ways we can help are excellent Tidy Towns projects goals.
Previous winners such as Ennis, Co. Clare (2018 Large Town winners) and Ballon, Co. Carlow (2018 Small Town winners) engaged the local community by taking measures to encourage people to tackle climate change through some simple steps. Ennis stood out with their Recycling and Waste Prevention flyer. These were printed on paper from sustainable managed forests, and were distributed to more than 7,000 households. A further 5,000 flyers were distributed through local shops and other outlets.
Ballon impressed us with their 'Go Green Expo'. This included a Junk Kouture fashion show, a 'Grow Your Own' stand, a locally-rescourced BBQ, and a talk by the VOICE Ireland Recycling Ambassador Programme. They also introduced a reusable cup campaign and a village water refill station, and produced a 'Balána Glas (Green Ballon)' booklet.
Another previous winner, Monaghan, hosted a seminar with well-informed speakers discussing climate change with the local community. Others projects include eco-camps and workshops. The workshops teach people about how they can be more economical with their energy as well as their carbon footprint!
Another great initiative was by Ballycanew in Co. Wexford, which produced a column for their local newspaper on simple behavioural changes people can make, to become more environmentally friendly.
Clean Air Award winners
In 2018, Ennis used social media and the local press to spread a message about how even one small change can make a difference to the quality of the air we breathe. The message they chose was 'Don't Fume at the Kids' – which was an appeal to parents to turn car engines off outside schools when dropping off or picking up children, instead of allowing the engines to continue to run. The committee worked with a graphic designer to develop an image that was equally effective at small size on a smartphone screen as at large size in a printed newspaper. They also developed both English and Irish language versions of the graphic.
Local schools, Clare County Council, and the Clare Echo newspaper all helped the Tidy Towns committee to deliver the message to thousands of people.
Another great entry was by Carrigaline (Co. Cork), who submitted an entry that involved several initiatives:
- They conducted a comprehensive Home Heating Survey, which received 500 replies. They used the results to produce and circulate an information leaflet to encourage people to move towards solar power for secondary heating needs, and make them aware of various Home Energy Grants available.
- They encouraged a local secondary school to join the GLOBE initiative. TY students there now take air quality measurements as part of a national Citizen Science project.
- They arranged talk by Professor John Sodeau of UCC, on The Importance of Clean Air. More than 200 people attended.
- They also spread a message to encourage people to turn off their car engines outside schools, instead of leaving them idling.