Five ways to integrate sustainability into your everyday life

Madeleine Murray and Dr Tara Shine, of Change by Degrees, a sustainability consultancy, will address a Network Cork evening next week called ‘Small Changes, Big Differences’. Here they share five ways on how you can integrate sustainability into your everyday home and work life
Five ways to integrate sustainability into your everyday life
Dr Tara Shine and Madeleine Murray of Change by Degrees

AS the summer draws to a close, people are gearing up for back to school, back to work, back to reality! It’s a good time of year to press restart and initiate new routines.

When it comes to behaving more sustainability, not knowing where to start holds many people back. Faced with the daunting reality of climate change it is easy to wonder if individual efforts are worthwhile — but they all add up and they matter.

Here are five ways to integrate sustainability into your everyday life and business practices so you can future-proof your family and your work.

1. Think green when thinking of energy

This requires sitting at your computer for about 15 minutes with a utility bill, logging on to any of the switcher sites. Check who your provider is, and if you need to, switch to one that offers 100% renewable energy (predominantly wind energy in Ireland) instead of fossil fuel energy (i.e. from burning coal, peat, oil or natural gas).

If your provider offers green energy but at a high rate, tell them you may switch to a cheaper option and see if they can match it.

Also, take a look at the appliances and equipment you have on stand-by (plugged in but not switched off) in your home and office. They are draining energy and costing you money — as much as 10% of your energy bill. Take time to switch off computers, printers, coffee machines, phone chargers and televisions when they are not in use.

2. Figure out your heating

Believe it or not around 40% of us don’t actually know how to work our thermostats.

Remember that every degree your turn it down saves energy and money. The advice is to set thermostats to 18-21C. Those who feel the cold should add an extra layer of clothes, rather than heating the whole room or office more. And avoid having windows open and a radiator on at the same time.

3. Getting around

We’re not expecting you to ditch the car overnight, but the truth is that owning a car is expensive and polluting.

Cars are parked for 90-95% of the time so finding more cost effective ways to get around when you need to makes sense. If you can, walk or cycle or take a bus to work. If that isn’t an option can you lift share with a neighbour or work colleague? Go Cars provide a user friendly way to access a car when you need one if you are a city dweller.

Every time you walk to work or to the shop you do something positive for your health and the environment and you role model good behavior to your family and colleagues.

Next, think about flights and how you can reduce the number of fights you take. At work, use video conferencing to reduce your need to fly to meetings.

Don’t forget you can carbon-offset your travel emissions too. You can find a project that is helping to save carbon dioxide emissions and donate to their work.

4. Say no to single-use at the next meeting or event

Whether you’re organizing a kid’s birthday party or an office meeting, there are numerous ways to reduce the amount of waste you produce. Opt for jugs of water or cordial over individual plastic bottles. Use real plates, cups and cutlery rather than disposable ones and if your office doesn’t have crockery or cutlery request a budget to buy some and emphaise the long term cost savings over buying disposable items.

If you are hiring caterers, insist they use compostable packaging that can be disposed of in a brown bin afterwards and make sure they don’t provide you with single serve portions of ketchup and butter that create lots of waste. If you don’t have a brown bin for food waste at home or in the office call your waste provider and request one.

A party bag for a kid or a gift bag for a client often contains numerous items that will be used for ten minutes and then disposed of. Look for alternative ways to thank people for attending.

5. Information is power

Running a household or a business (or both!) means that finding time to investigate the most up-to-date facts on climate change or the dos and don’ts of living more sustainably can be a challenge. Finding a trustworthy source to guide you in the right direction, one degree at a time, will make all the difference. Follow us at Change by Degrees on social media @changebydegrees,or check our website at for the latest information, videos and tips on how to live more sustainably.

Your actions can inspire others and amplify your impact. It won’t add to your everyday workload, but it will change the world for the better.


Network Cork and AIB, 66 South Mall have collaborated to provide Cork Businesspersons with an evening focused on sustainability. ‘Small Changes Make Big Differences’ will take place at AIB, 66 South Mall on Wednesday, September 4, from 6pm-8pm. Tickets are €25 for non-Network Cork members and they are available on Eventbrite.

Head of Leadership Development at AIB, Pedro Angulo, is guest speaker, as are Dr Tara Shine and Madeleine Murray, founders of Change by Degrees and Plastic Free Kinsale.. The event will also feature a 10-minute chair yoga session with Jean Noonan, founder of Alchemy School of Yoga, Cork.


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