Save Our Planet Awards

We are very excited to have been nominated for the Save Our Planet Awards in which voting is currently open. I’ll wait right here while you pop over to vote for us.

These awards are in their second year in the North West of Ireland where we live and are a great way to find out about local green business or organisations. It means a lot to us to be nominated for an award that is focused in the North West, the area of Ireland that we have chosen to make our home.

The Save our Planet Awards celebrate groups, organizations, businesses, and individuals who are outstanding examples in implementing good environmental practice and initiatives, and who, in their own way, are “saving the planet”!
You can have that person or organization recognized and acknowledged in a real way, and, in the process, highlight the difference that small actions and real commitment can make to the earth, amid the major threats facing it from climate change, and environmental damage.

We have been nominated because we run a number of green businesses and have done so for a few years now. Many people know us as the “windmill people” because we have been teaching people to build their own wind turbines since 2007. We have taught many courses in our local area of Co. Leitrim and have also been teaching further afield – both in Co Kilkenny and Portugal.

These courses are fully hands on and can be quite challenging from an energy point of view as we go full blast and build a wind turbine from scratch during the six days. This work is great fun as we get to interact with all sorts of wonderful and interesting people, it’s a good length of time to get to know people when you both work and eat together. Of course the fact that we also get to travel is very cool and we have loved that wind turbines have brought us to Portugal a number of times in the past few years.

We also design and install other renewable energy systems and have helped a number of people in Ireland to set up off-grid electrical systems. We often end up in the most wonderful of settings during this work and it is very rewarding when we see how happy people are to become self sufficient as far as electricity is concerned.

We are perhaps less well know for our Green Web Hosting and we often think that this is where we could have the biggest impact on reducing pollution and helping people to reduce their carbon footprint. Did you know that the internet is set to outrun the Air Traffic Industry as the dirtiest industry in just a few short years?

Do you know where your website resides? All websites live on a server somewhere so they live in large server farms and data centers – these are not really idyllic areas of rolling pasture with trees blowing blissfully in the breeze. They are large industrial warehouses with very large electrical bills for cooling and running the servers (really powerful computers). A web server on average produces more than 630kg of CO2 and consumes 1,000 KWh of energy annually (Wikipedia).

What can we do about this? We could stop using the internet… Yeah, didn’t think so, me neither. We can move our websites onto green servers – server farms that are powered directly by renewable energy. It’s easy to do and we can do all the techy side of things for you – arrange the movers and pack the boxes, load the moving van as it were. We keep our eyes out for the best green servers around the world because that sort of thing is important to us. It only costs a little more than having your website smoking coal and just think about the benefits.

What can we do if we don’t have a website or don’t want to move it until the rental period is up?

  • Switch off the data connection on our phones for a few hours every day – this also gives you the benefit of a quiet period. I have a free android app (break free) on my phone that automatically switches off the data from midnight until 10am. I can choose to easily switch it back on if I wish to be internet active earlier in the morning however I often find that I don’t want to.
  • Switch off your phone at night – fully! If you need the alarm to function as I often do then switch your phone onto flight mode until you are up and about. Who needs all those notifications before your first coffee anyway?
  • Turn off your laptop and desktops when they are not in use, especially overnight. Double whammy here – you save electricity reducing your bill and you also stop the computer accessing information and updating etc.
  • Switch off your smart tv when it is not in use.
  • Switch off your DAB radio when you are not listening to it.

Are you noticing a theme here? I guess it’s obvious however sometimes the obvious is not so easy to see. It’s easy to forget that our smartphones are responsible for energy use even when they are not plugged in to charge.

But before you switch off – don’t forget to pop on over to vote for us in the Save Our Planet Awards. If we are successful then more people will hear about us and we can get more people to make the switch – switch over to green hosting and switch off.

What the frack is going on?

I don’t tend towards exageration however I have to say that we are on the edge of environmental disaster here in the North West of Ireland. We are about to allow a few large shale gas mining corporations, using hydraulic fracturing drilling methods, to waltz in here and destroy our watertables, our aquifers – in fact we have given them licence to do just that, we have given them a licence to frack our local environment.

I know that we have been asleep, these licences were given some time ago and most of us never noticed. I know now that in many parts of the world ordinary people have had their lives disrupted, their farms destroyed, their livestock sickened and their own health damaged by shale gas extraction in their areas.

Rivers, streams, ponds and lakes have been damaged so that fish and other aquatic wildlife die. Watertables are damaged so that drinking water wells are now unusable, people are having to buy bottled water in order to cook, wash, water their vegetables, water their livestock etc. In some areas the tap water has become inflammeable – you can light it on fire!

The threat to our environment is overwhelming in scale and I am having great difficulty in coping with this new element in my life. In the past I was a very angry teenager and young woman, in my twenties and early thrities I was able channel that anger through involvement in certain environmental and community activism. To be an activist I found that the anger I felt was put to good use, it was useful to be angry, it gave me the energy to be commited in campaign work, it helped me to feel motivated and I was passionate about the issues in which I was involved.

Everything changed in my mid-thirties, my life was thrown upside down and I began to work on myself, I began to heal the anger. It was a long and hard journey at first and as anyone who has been on a recovery or healing path knows – nothing remains the same, the pain eased and the anger became explained, I could see why it was there and I could work on not needing or feeding it anymore. I am still on that path, I still work hard at being emtionally healthy, having healthy relationships with myself and others.

Now I have a life partner and we are making a home for ourselves in a beautiful unspoilt part of rural Ireland. We are building our home using our own hands and constantly learning new skills along the way, both life-skills and building skills. I am fortunate in having soul sisters (the word friends doesn’t quite cut it), with whom I have very good relationships and we support each other in very honest and gentle ways- that took hard work too. I have a life that I never dreamt possible, it’s a simple life, it’s not easy, we have very little money and face many challenges and I would not change it for all the money in the world.

It has changed now.

These changes are outside my control – as life is. I need to find a way to challenge what is happening to our environment without loosing myself. I don’t want to go back to living with anger in every cell in my body, I have to find a way to live with what is happening and how I feel about it without becoming lost in it.

I have a lot of work to do…