by Malcolm Rooney, ESRAG Director and Regional Chapter Chairs Coordinator

Over the past year ESRAG has achieved a huge amount of good work through its Projects Programme, led by Dr. Mina Venkataraman.  All ESRAG members are encouraged to either participate in one of the highlighted projects on the ESRAG website  and/or suggest new ones. However, I want to suggest an additional approach to projects: that Every ESRAG Member is an ESRAG Project.  In other words ,we don’t just talk the talk or get involved in what I would call  “out there activities:” we walk the walk.  As ESRAG members, we lead by personal action. And so, here are some thoughts about the actions we can take that others could copy. I have divided these actions into a number of categories.

National Initiatives:

  • Discover and use recycling facilities. In Scotland, our glass, some plastic, tins, paper, and cardboard are collected from the kerbside by the local authority, as is our food waste. In addition, all the main towns and cities have recycling centers. We can also recycle single-use plastic at larger supermarkets.
  • Accessing grants: The Scottish Government has set aside money to support energy saving projects. Find out what your government will fund. Last year I got a grant of just over $10,000 to install an air source heat pump.

Big Projects that cost money

  • Electric Cars: I have driven electric cars for 5 years, and we’ll replace our diesel second car with an electric one in a couple of years
  • Solar Panels: We have had solar panels since 2017. To date we have generated 21.22 MWh
  • Home Insulation In 2017 we moved to a house that was triple-glazed and insulated, above and below

 Low-cost projects to reduce or offset your impact

  • Tree Planting In 2019, following my last flight, I planted 110 trees to offset the trip. I have now resolved not to fly because I do not think it is fair to all concerned that I do.
  • Treekly: Every day I walk at least 5,000 steps and use the Treekly app to pay around $5 a month to a project that will plant a mangrove tree in Madagascar . That’s added up to over 600 trees planted to date.
  • Zoom: I now make regular use of Zoom to avoid physically travelling to meetings.
YOU are an ESRAG Project

Malc in his well-loved, long-worn tartans, walking his talk.

Easy no-cast projects: several can save you money!

  • Food: eat less red meat. Try to be aware of food miles, and avoid air-freighted food. Avoid food waste.
  • Clothing: Be a follower of values, not a follower of fashion. Don’t buy new clothes very often. Buy ethically produced clothing. Recycle when you can.
  • Transportation:  If you have a petrol/diesel-powered car, drive it 10 mph slower. Use public transport where feasible. Consider shopping online.
  • At home or work: Install LED lights.  Use a renewable energy supplier. Gradually turn your heating down to below 20°C – it helps to wear an additional layer of clothing.  Recycle ink cartridges or use an ink tank printer. Conserve water.

Consumer choices: Avoid single-use plastic and aerosols. Do not renew your phone when the providers tell you to. recycle ink cartridges or use an ink tank printer. Don’t buy printed periodicals: read online.

Grow your community’s awareness and skill: Read about climate change and environmental sustainability. Discuss environmental problems and solutions with colleagues, friends, and family – especially younger members. Join or create related community groups. Be an Operation Pollination Ambassador.

Malc Rooney is a member of the Rotary Club of  Kirriemuir in District 1010 and past Chair of ESRAG’s Great Britain and Ireland Chapter.