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Gift Guide for Mother Nature

Mother Nature Blossoms on tree

This week is a time to celebrate the maternal figures in our lives, those who gave us life. A universal maternal figure is one that is all around us: Mother Nature. With spring well underway, there is no better time to reflect on ways that we can better look after our wild spaces, so here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Invest in a reusable coffee cup. There are certainly more sustainable cups being used by cafés around Dublin than ever before, but there is still no better option than bringing your own. Back in 2018, a report by Recycling List Ireland found that 22,000 coffee cups were thrown away every hour in Ireland, and I’ve seen the effects of this on our litter-picking adventures around Inchicore, and even digging up parts of the former wasteland underneath the garden. An added bonus to bringing your own cup is that you usually get a discount too.
  • Go peat-free with your compost. Not only a vital habitat for different species of insects and flora, peat bogs naturally trap and store large amounts of carbon dioxide. As such, they’re an ecosystem that is known as a “carbon sink” and are essential in the battle against climate change. Some even refer to them as “Ireland’s rainforests”. Without peatlands, there is significantly more carbon dioxide in the air. Over the past four months at the distillery, we’ve switched to using only peat-free compost to do our bit. This can be a bit of a faff to find, but as a rule of thumb, if the compost packet doesn’t say it’s peat-free, it’s not. 
  • Harvest seeds. If you have your own garden or containers, instead of deadheading everything, let a few go to seed. This provides a food source for birds, whilst also ensuring next year’s crop (and potentially an exponential reduction in your own seed costs). You can also harvest seeds from vegetables and fruit you eat. I bought a few delicious heirloom tomatoes from Kilmainham’s Dublin Food Co-op and Inchicore’s Small Changes over the summer, and held onto a few of the seeds to try to grow my own this year. All you have to do is rinse the seeds free of any of the flesh and jelly-like protective membrane (I usually do this over a sieve so as not to lose the seeds down the drain), then leave them to dry on some baking paper on a sunny windowsill. When they’re dry, I store them in a container or paper envelope, and date them. A way to speed up the drying process and to make sure your seeds don’t get mouldy in storage is to add a packet of silica gel (very easy to get with antigen test kits so prevalent) that will keep them moisture-free. 
  • Get involved. Whether that’s with our own Social Botanist Project, or with many of the other community environmental initiatives out there (if you’re in Dublin 8, Inchicore Environmental Group are brilliant, and the very engaged Drimnagh Environmental Group are just across the canal too). These groups are also a great way to meet like-minded people, find out more about where you live, and enjoy the sunshine all at the same time. Need I say more?