by Bronwyn Slater
It has to be said that Transition Galway’s latest document ‘A Vision for Galway 2030’ is truly inspirational. This document, as well as the 8 accompanying short videos, outline the group’s proposals for sustainability over the next 15 years. The document and videos were produced as a result of public consultations and discussions organised by the group in 2013 and 2014. The discussions centred around 8 main topics:
Energy, Food and Water, Infrastructure, Community and Education, Arts and Culture, Economics, Waste, and Inner Transition. The public were invited to put forward their ideas for a sustainable future for Galway, and the document which was compiled as a result is planned to be distributed to local politicians, schools, libraries and the City Council.
Here are just some of their main proposals:
Food and Water:
- More mixed farms and smallholdings:- this helps to create biodiversity and creates less of a demand for fossil fuels.
- Urban gardening, allotments and garden sharing schemes. School and hospital garden facilitator jobs.
- Gardens in public buildings and public spaces.
- Local food processing and a strong local food distribution system where producers and retailers are connected.
- Buy local organic food.
- Eat less meat (though we recommend eliminating meat.)
- Wild food foraging. Eat less process food.
- Encourage the growing of hemp and flax. Encourage agroforestry.
- End fluoridation. Rainwater harvesting. Greywater recycling.
Community and Education:
- School garden facilitators.
- Situate classes in an outdoor setting.
- More physical movement.
- Valuing co-operation over competition.
- A 4-day work week, with the fifth day reserved for community activities.
- Emphasis on education for practical skills:- there is currently too much emphasis on academic subjects.
- Environmental and sustainability issues should feature more in broadcasting.
- Inter-generational learning:- older people can pass on their knowledge and skills to younger people.
- More lifelong education.
- Create a vibrant local democracy. Community celebrations.
- Create a vibrant voluntary sector.
- Low-energy lifestyles.
- Local is best when choosing the products we buy.
- Less air travel.
- Living closer to work. Electric vehicles.
- Energy efficiency:- building insulation, energy-efficient housing design. Stoves instead of open fireplaces.
- Fuel poverty alleviation. Energy-producing gyms. An oil-free Galway by 2030.
- Single wind turbines in the city.
- Bioenergy:- biogas from anaerobic waste digestion, biofuel crops. A Centre for Practical Sustainability in Galway.
- Divestment from fossil fuels and dirty industries. More fair-trade products.
- Establishment of a local currency.
- Alternative methods of trading – LETS schemes, bartering and time-banking.
- A sharing economy – car sharing, job sharing, open source, shared childminding, skill-sharing, house-shares.
- Ensure that ecological considerations are central to decision making. Green taxes and grants.
- A strong ethical banking sector – ethical banks give loans and services to businesses and organisations that are judged to be of social or ecological benefit.
- Green products and services –‘cradle to cradle’ model where waste is eliminated and the product can be reused or recycled.
- An eco-rating system for all manufactured products.
- A walking-friendly and cycling-friendly city. Expand the Galway bike scheme.
- Improve existing rail services – electrify the rail system, increase train speeds, increase the volume of rail freight and introduce a light rail system.
- Create a world-class bus service.
- Greener motoring – car pooling, car sharing, year-round ‘park and ride’.
- Revitalise the canals.
- Create bio-diverse landscaping with native trees, flowers and protection for wildlife, and create quality green public spaces.
- Green building design.
- Good planning, mixed use planning and suburban centres ensure that people have a sense of community.
- Ruralisation – reverse the trend of urbanisation and bring people back to the land.
- Rural regeneration – bring people back to the small rural villages, re-invigorate them along the lines of Cloughjordan Eco-Village, and create rural co-operatives.
Arts and Culture:
- Create a Galway craft gallery.
- Commission environmental TV documentaries and screen environmental films. Make festivals and events greener.
- An environmental festival for Galway.
- Neighbourhood festivals to create a sense of community. Create a vibrant local media.
- Creative citizens, men’s sheds, story-telling, open music sessions, DIY and crafts classes.
- Promote local artistic talent.
- Ethical design and eco-fashion.
- Encourage less materialism.
- Greater producer and retailer responsibility – they need to ensure that the products they sell can be recycled safely and properly.
- Less packaging and compostable packaging, taxes on packaging. Refundable deposits on beverage containers.
- More refillable containers. More bring-bank centres. A resource recovery park.
- Flea markets and car boot sales. Used goods websites.
- Fab lab and ‘maker spaces’ for Galway where people can create, innovate and collaborate on new projects and ideas.
- A Rediscovery Centre where furniture, bicycles and textiles are recovered and reused. More fixing and repair cafes.
- Zero waste and ‘cradle to cradle’ – aims to create designs in which there is no waste.
- Environmental footprint rating of products. Ecological cleaning products.
- Waste segregation in fast food outlets.
- Continued education of the public and creating awareness. Compost toilets.
- Composting and wormeries.
- Recycle and reuse construction and demolition waste.
- Plant-based wastewater treatment using reed-beds with gravel.
- Anaerobic digestion –waste material is fed into a digester which produces biogas with the aid of bacteria.
- Balancing mental and physical wellbeing. Taking care of our health.
- Spending time in nature.
- Having quiet spaces for reflection, yoga and meditation.
- Reducing stress and busyness. Improving the overall quality of our lives.
If any or all of this has inspired you, then check out Transition Galway’s Facebook group here.