My last week in Ireland was spent touring the country with my Mom and my partner, Kelci. I got to show them where I lived and worked, they got to meet some of the people I worked with at Energy Action and I took them to some of my favorite places, including the Long Room in the Trinity Library. Then, we all got to experience the rest of the country together. We went hiking in Howth and saw dolphins, seals and professional cliff divers! We went to the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in Limerick; we went to Killarney National Park and saw the Torc Waterfall; we went to the Cliffs of Moher; and, most importantly, we went to the Blarney Castle in Cork and kissed the Blarney Stone – which also happens to be the place where my partner PROPOSED! All in all, I’d say Ireland has been and forever will be one of the most memorable times of my life.
I learned a lot about sustainability in Ireland that was not specifically related to my internship. I realized that Ireland is sustainable by default simply because the lifestyles and habits of the citizens are much less wasteful and greedy. For example, public transportation, walking and riding a bike are more common modes of transportation than individual cars. Also, most of the cars that are on the road are much smaller than the average vehicle in the U.S. Food portions are much smaller in Ireland, which reduces food waste and materials needed to produce to-go containers. Markets charge customers if they need a plastic bag to carry their groceries in; most people bring in their own reusable bags when they go shopping. While touring Ireland my last week, we saw hundreds of wind turbines up in the hills. These are just a few of the things I observed in Ireland that make me realize how unsustainable our lifestyles are here in the U.S. and this realization really solidified for me the fact that I truly want to tackle environmental issues on a global scale.