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We recently teamed up with Craghoppers to see if we could staycation more sustainably. While it’s not possible to eliminate our carbon footprint completely we wanted to see how many things we could do to staycation in a more sustainable way.
So, we put on our hiking boots and headed West, to Clifden Eco Beach Camping. Located on a private beach in Connemara, the campsite offers not only mind-blowing views but is one of the pioneers when it comes to sustainable accommodation.
In addition to our accommodation choice, we concentrated on our transport, use of single-use plastic and even the apparel we were wearing and the tent and sleeping equipment we used.
One thing that really resonated with us from the trip is that small changes can go a long way.
When it comes to transport for your sustainable staycation there are a few things to consider. Can you take public transport? Or can you at least limit the number of vehicles that are required to take you where you need to go? On our recent trip to Clifden Eco Beach Camping, I took public transport to meet up with my friend near his home and drove the rest of the way. This kept a car off the road when it wasn’t really necessary. Public transport may not be as convenient as driving but it’s far better for the environment. According to ourworlddata.org: “Taking a train instead of a car for medium-length distances would cut your emissions by ~80%”
Take a little bit of extra time to consider your accommodation. There are lots of environmentally conscious options available now offering everything from basic camping to luxury hotels and guesthouses. Staying true to our roots, we opted for a camping option, pitching our tent at Clifden Eco Beach Camping on the west coast of Ireland.
Clifden Eco Beach camping is an industry leader when it comes to sustainable camping in Ireland and even across Europe. The campsite was the first Eco-Certified Carbon Neutral premises in Ireland and the first business in Europe to ban the use of single-use water bottles, among many other initiatives.
If the accommodation in the area you intend on visiting does not advertise any sustainable practices why not ask them what they are doing for the environment?
Another consideration when it comes to picking somewhere to stay is its location. Is it close to many of the things you intend on visiting/doing on your staycation? This will limit travel times and thus pollution (if you’re driving) but also give you more time to enjoy where you are!
When it comes to sustainability there are a few things to consider with regard to your food choices.
As outdoor enthusiasts, there are certain things that we will need to purchase in order to maximise our enjoyment of our the outdoors. There are a few things that we can do however to limit our impact on the environment. Consider the manufacturer of the product. Do they have any eco-certifications? If not is there another brand you could purchase from that does? Do you plan on using the product more than once? If not we would encourage you to ask around and see if you can borrow what you need!
“Buy well buy once”, is a common mantra of the sustainably-minded to challenge the consumerist culture in which we live. People are to purchase the newest item of clothing without considering its impact.
“It is a big problem, the greenwashing,” says Kris, the owner at Clifden Eco Beach Camping “It’s huge, sustainability is a buzzword now”, in today’s society brands use it as a calculated marketing campaign. Thus tricking unaware consumers into purchasing from unsustainable brands that masquerade as eco-conscious. Sustainable brands like Craghoppers challenge this paradigm by making longer-lasting clothing as well as having multiple independent certifications from third-party companies such as Bluesign, Higgs Index, Better Cotton as well as the Global Recycled Standard that backup up their claims of being environmentally conscious.
We have written about the many things that Craghoppers do in order to limit their environmental impact in our article called Craghoppers: Raising the Bar for Sustainable Practices in the Outdoors
On our trip, we used Cascade Designs’ camping products which are some of the best, in terms of build quality and sustainability, on the market. When we visited the Cascade factory in March 2022 we witnessed all of the practices implemented by the company in order to limit the environmental impact.
A worrying trend that we are seeing in the past few years is the increasing occurrences of camping gear being seen as disposable or single-use. It is no secret that the MSR Elixir that we used on our trip is expensive, however, it is expensive for good reason. The factory in Midleton has a warranty section where faulty products are fixed and returned to customers free of charge.
Cascade Designs: A Sustainable Global Outdoor Company in Cork
Every outdoor enthusiast has likely heard of the Leave No Trace Principles. Many outdoor enthusiasts subconsciously carry out these principles with little thought. Unfortunately, you do not have to look far in order to see the impact left by those who are less accustomed to the Leave No Trace Principles. In some cases simply leaving no trace could even be seen as “opting out”. Educate people on the Leave No Trace Principles where you can and if you are not comfortable being a “spoken advocate”, lead by example. Why not bring a rubbish bag with you and pick up rubbish on your staycation. If you are with kids you could even gamify this providing a prize for the person who collects the most! Why not start them young!
On our trip home from Clifden, we stopped in Moycullen for a cup of coffee in a café that we had picked out. The Tree Bark Store Café in Moycullen does not only just sell great coffee, but they also serve as a hub for small local businesses to stock their products. While we were there we asked Jeff, the owner, why he decided to create the café as a hub of sustainability and local produce;
“…it seemed only right to encourage people to take the first steps towards a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle by offering a range of eco-based products that would sit nicely alongside our range of Irish-made gifts and other products. For example, our cards and prints are supplied in compostable film rather than plastic.”
When it comes to the inevitable waste that is associated with running any business, Tree Bark Store has a plan for that too!
“We work with coffee roasters who are chasing a low impact approach, all our coffee waste gets collected by locals who use it for compost when growing their veg. Having a small business means we can have a bigger impact on how that business interacts with our environment.”
They have everything from locally roasted coffee, locally made jewelry, soaps, and much more. In addition, they stock eco alternatives to everyday household products. Things like bamboo toothbrushes all the way to keep cups and eco sponges for doing the washing up.
We would recommend having a small kit of reusable items that you can use on your sustainable staycation. This will help you to limit your dependents on single-use items such as drinks bottles, coffee cups, and plastic cutlery.
It has been well documented in the media over the past few months how much of an impact single-use coffee cups have on our environment. The shocking figure of 22,000 single-use coffee cups being generated in Ireland every hour definitely shocked us. However, luckily there is a simple solution to this issue: the humble Keep Cup! A key item in every eco-warriors arsenal, keep cups, or reusable cups are a must for the coffee enthusiast nowadays, especially with the impending 20 cent levy on single-use coffee cups.
A reusable water bottle is another absolute must for your sustainable staycation. Not only will the use of your own bottle keep single-use bottles out of landfills, but many reusable bottles now are insulated meaning they will keep your drink cooler for far longer they will also not leach nasty chemicals into your water as a plastic bottle would. Refill stations can be found nationwide at refill.ie and many cafés or pubs in the countryside will gladly refill a water bottle nowadays.
Bring a bag! Having a backpack or a reusable shopping bag handy will mean that you are not caught at the checkout having to purchase plastic bags.
Just take a moment before you consume. A few sample questions to ask yourself maybe, “Do I need this?”, “Is there a more sustainable alternative”, “How could I do this more in a more environmentally friendly way next time?”
Spending a bit more on the recycled fleece, a more durable tent, keep cup or reusable water bottle may not seem convenient at the time. However, these small changes widely practiced make a huge difference.
We are so detached from so many of the downstream effects of the actions we take. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everything has an impact on the environment so our aim should be to minimize that impact.
If this is your introduction to thinking more about sustainability you may be feeling overwhelmed. That is totally normal. No staycation is totally sustainable so don’t let imperfection get in the way of taking the right next step! Thinking sustainably is all about momentum. Buying the fleece from an eco-conscious brand like Craghoppers may be the trigger point to change another habit. Bringing us closer to sustainable living.
By Matthew McConnell
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