"To Travel is to Live."
Weekends aren't all about catching up on sleep or bingeing on TV series or movies anymore. Though both of those are noble pursuits, more and more people are making it their business to get out and about and explore little pockets of Ireland that they haven't been to yet.
But let's face it, we don't have the greatest track record of looking after the earth while we're doing it. Monday mornings after a sunny weekend at the canal are evidence of that.
The idea of sustainable travel is becoming more and more popular as a way of reducing your impact while still enjoying all the benefits of adventuring.
Getting to and travelling around your chosen destination in a way that doesn't leave a massive carbon footprint can be a challenge but there are a few ways that can significantly reduce your impact.
Cycling is not only great for the environment but it's sometimes the best way to experience an area. Give the car the weekend off and try a cycling holiday. Even if an entire cycling holiday freaks you out, you can hire a bike for a day or two.
If you're a beginner, you should rent a bike and cycle around the Aran Islands. Idyllic.
Your two feet
Lads, cmon, use what the good Lord gave ya. Ireland is full of unreal hill walks, cliff walks and mountain hikes as well as plenty of beaches and forests that don't require cars to get to.
The causeway coastal walk is a relatively easy trek to start you off.
Electric cars have been around for a while now and there are charge points across the country. Though they aren't hugely popular yet, you won't be able to buy new petrol or diesel cars after 2030 if Ireland 2040 comes to pass so you might as well get used to them now.
There are plenty of accommodation providers who are committed to using energy efficiently, minimising waste, recycling, sourcing locally and in most cases taking part in local community challenges such as beach clean ups and tidy town initiatives. You may even get the chance to play an active role by helping in the garden or feeding the hens.
If this sounds like a bit of you, check out Coolanowle Country House on the Carlow/Laois border.
Food & Drink
Some of the highlights of your trip will be the food and drink you enjoy, even more so if it's responsibly sourced and produced.
Look for establishments that minimise food waste and use local ingredients and suppliers to ensure your breakfast or dinner made was as sustainably as possible.
Kai restuarant in Galway has a 3 star rating for sustainability awarded by Food Made Good awards.
Not surprisingly, there aren't many festivals that can call themselves completely sustainable in Ireland but Electric Picnic is certainly making efforts to have reduce its footprint.
Say No to Plastic
The ocean has become a massive dump because of all the plastic we use. Be cool and opt for reusable glass or titanium bottles on your travels.
Research your Tour Operators
Sometimes it can be hard to figure this out but a good way to check is to ask some questions like: Can you give me an example of how your trips help to protect wildlife or cultural heritage? What are some of your tour company’s environmentally friendly practices? Do you employ local guides on your trips?
You'll quickly realise if you want to spend your money with them or not.
It might sound like a lot of work but a lot of it is common sense and in the long run it's definitely worth it.