Sitting heart-achingly pretty on the Wild Atlantic Way, surrounded by stunning land and seascapes, Westport understands its responsibility to act as the climate emergency deepens. We’re keen to be as green as we can be, and to give our precious wildlife a leg up. Here are seven stars of Westport’s ongoing efforts to be a sustainable town, each one of them deserving our applause for helping to keep the town not only beautiful, but also respectful of the natural world to which it owes so much.
Seven sustainability stars in Westport
1. Edible Landscape Project
On the go since 2013, the Edible Landscape Project is focused on helping people ‘to do ordinary things to create extraordinary change to reverse global warming’ with fun workshops and more.
Cleverly seizing the opportunity for environmental goodness presented by Great Western Greenway, the project has worked to design and plant an edible landscape – fruit and nut trees, shrubs, root and leaf vegetables and wild herbs – on selected sites along the public walkway and cycle-path. Great for wildlife, great for the air we breathe, great for hungry tummies. Win, win, win.
Sustainable grocery store PAX Whole Foods and Eco Goods opened in December 2018, and has been busy helping Westporters cut down on waste. When buying everyday goods like tea, coffee, spices, grains and all sorts of baking ingredients, customers can do away with unnecessary packaging by bringing their own containers.
PAX also carries a fantastic range of zero-waste accessories, such as water bottles, coffee cups, containers, lunch boxes, food wraps and cutlery, as well as eco-friendly personal-care items and cleaning products – and gorgeous gifts made from upcycled materials.
3. Westport Tidy Towns
Multi-award-winning Westport Tidy Towns has long been flying the green flag, spearheading a whole host sustainability initiatives. The group’s Biodiversity Officer, Pat Fahy, works with WTT members and motivated locals to create pollinator-friendly wildflower meadows and build insect hotels. He also spreads the word fortnightly in his fascinating nature and re-wilding column in local paper The Mayo News – where the group also has its own separate Westport Tidy Towns Corner, keeping readers informed about their eco initiatives and encouraging everyone to join in and be green.
4. Westport’s vintners
On June 1, 2018, Westport made national headlines when it became the first town in Ireland to ditch plastic straws in favour of biodegradable ones, thanks to sustainable thinking from the town’s pubs and hotels.
The Westport Junior Tidy Towns suggested the move, and our local vintners wholeheartedly embraced the idea, eager to help reduce the amount of plastic generated in the town. The environment does not draw the short straw in Westport!
5. Westport Eco-Congregation
In true community and ecumenical spirit, St Mary’s Parish and the Holy Trinity communities came together in 2016 to form Westport Eco-Congregation, with the aim of promoting awareness of the environment and helping to lessen the damage that we humans can do to it. With their help, local community churches strive to adopt an eco-approach to worship, lifestyle, property, finance management, community outreach and contact with the developing world.
The Eco-Congregation members also host workshops, presentations and talks, as well as organise regular clean-ups. They have even produced their own Christmas postcards, which use less paper and don’t need envelopes – so simple, but so effective.
Founded in January 2015, Westport Environmental Sustainable Community – or WESCo as it’s known – is a group of like-minded people who are committed to promoting, supporting and developing an environmentally sustainable community.
This voluntary organisation works with other community groups to build a better appreciation of Westport’s delicate environment, brainstorm on ways to meet the challenges of climate change, strengthen local communities through small-scale projects and support sustainable local food production. Here, here!
7. Westport Smarter Travel
Who needs a pesky polluting car when you can hop on a bike and cycle to work, the beach or the shops? Especially when you can bike along beautiful boreens and backroads, or glide along a greenway, getting a natural high from gorgeous scenery?
Knowing this, the smart people at Westport Smarter Travel do what they can to promote sustainable travel in Westport and its environs. The group is all about reducing our preference for the car and promoting more-sustainable travel modes, such as walking, cycling, skateboarding, public transport or car sharing. Keep an eye out for their annual Bike Buffet too – it’s a foodie lover’s dream, with everyone invited to join them as they cycle from restaurant to restaurant, filling up on lots of lovely local food. Sure don’t you pedal away the calories?