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You are here Sustainability – Greenpages > Initiatives > Resource Consumption

What can I do?

Resource Use and Sustainable Food

Many of the purchases we make are a drain on natural resources. Every item that is manufactured in this world takes materials, water and energy to make. The materials are largely extracted from nature, and the methods of extraction are typically polluting and damaging, which ends up diminishing or destroying ecosystems. 

Think about paper as an example: the primary raw material for the manufacture of non-recycled paper is trees. When a forest is cut down to make paper it not only removes carbon-sequestering trees from our planet, it also destroys a forest ecosystem. Each tree can support up to 300 species of plants (moss, lichens, small bushes, etc.), insects, birds, amphibians and mammals. When trees are cut down, precious habitat and life-sustaining ecosystems are removed. Many species become extinct. In this way, our consumption results in a less diverse and vibrant world.

Your commitment to eliminating paper use, recycling paper and choosing paper made from post-consumer* recycled content all contributes to a more verdant and healthy world for all species to live in, including us humans.

Think about the manufacture of your clothing, electronics, furniture, sports equipment, etc. – were the raw materials locally sourced?  How many miles did they travel to the point of manufacture and what distance did the products have to travel for you to buy them?

  • In general, choose products made from recycled content (especially post-consumer* recycled content where possible), in order to minimise your impact on the world.
  • Reuse everything you possibly can, and recycle/upcycle or repurpose items which can no longer fulfil their original function.

*post-consumer content is content which was discarded by a consumer, having been used once already.

Sustainable Food Choices

  • Buy locally produced food and products: Food sourced locally is fresher and healthier for you because it travelling less miles. When you buy local you are also contributing to stable employment in Ireland. Find local foods and Farmers’ Markets on this map. Check into Foodture.ie, a Trinity startup which helps to connect people to healthier food sources.
  • Eco-sensitive: Buy food produced with minimal chemical input (e.g. organic or biodynamic) to ensure the least possible damage to ecosystems and to your own health. Conventional agriculture employs thousands of tons of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, some of which can end up in the food grown. These chemicals damage the soil for long term use (requiring further chemical inputs) and can harm human health. Reduce your potential exposure by eating organic where possible.
  • Eat less meat: The (negative) environmental footprint of a diet with meat in it is 200% to 500% greater than a plant based diet. Reduce your meat consumption to benefit your body, the planet and your bank balance.
  • Humane: If you do purchase meat and dairy products, be attentive to healthy, comfortable conditions for farm animals. Free-range animals have a prescribed space of land to roam around, rather than being housed in pens all their lives. Purchase ‘Free Range’ meat and dairy foods where possible, in order to minimise harm and distress to farm animals.
  • Fairtrade: Fairtrade-certified suppliers are sensitive to fair labour conditions for their employees. Seek products which are Fairtrade. 
  • GMO-free: The EU unfortunately allows genetically modified foods within EU states (and since 2015 has prevented member states from opting out of this). Most of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are feed crops for farmed animals. However, be aware of the source of your meat and dairy foods, buy local where possible.
  • Reduce your food waste at home with these recommendations.
  • Drinking water: Keep a reusable water bottle with you so you can refill from the water fountains across Trinity sites, instead of buying water in disposable bottles.

Reusable Cups

Bring your own travel mug/reusable cup to the tea/coffee vendors in and around Trinity rather than using a disposable cup. An estimated 200 million disposable drinks containers are thrown out daily in Ireland. Find out more from the Conscious Cup Campaign.  
Compare the carbon footprint of disposable and reusable cups in this study from the University of Basel.

Reusable Options in Trinity:

  • use ceramic cups available in the Buttery café and the Pavilion (and anywhere else that provides them)
  • bring your own cup and get 40 cent or 10% (depending on the location on campus) off the price!
  • if you don’t already have a reusable/travel cup, thermos mugs (35cl) are available to buy in the SU shop and main cafes for only €8.95 and you get your first coffee or tea free!
  • a range of 'Keep Cups' are available to buy in outlets around Trinity (Science Café, SU shop, Buttery, etc.)