7 sustainable activities you can do in Ireland

The Sperrins, County Tyrone

The island of Ireland is known for its spectacular landscapes, so what better way to spend a visit than with sustainable and eco-friendly activities that protect and celebrate its wild nature

1 Take a seaweed bath on the Wild Atlantic Way

Sink into a warm seaweed bath perched at the edge of the sea and feel all your troubles melt away. Seaweed has been known for its healthy properties on the island of Ireland for generations, and seaweed baths go back nearly a century. Wild Atlantic Seaweed Baths’ unique Irish whiskey barrel hot tubs are fully mobile and regularly set up at scenic locations around West Cork and the Wild Atlantic Way, so why not head along and soak up Ireland’s nature.

2 Live in the slow lane  

Switch off from the modern world and experience nature at your own pace with a Slow Adventure tour of Northern Ireland’s Sperrin Mountains. Guided by a local ecologist, you can explore the colourful habitats and natural mountain formations, before heading to a working organic farm and a local cheesemaker to learn how to make the delicious traditional foods of the region.

3 Enrol in a WWOOFing holiday

If you really want to experience the sustainable life, sign up as a WWOOF volunteer for your Ireland visit. WWOOF, or World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is a movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to help build a sustainable, global community. As a volunteer, you will help your host with daily tasks and experience life as an organic farmer in some spectacular locations. Lissanoure Castle at the foot of the Glens of Antrim dates back to 1300 and with its large estate, organic gardens, lakes and woods, is the perfect blend of nature and history. Where better to get your hands dirty?

4 Become a Seal Rescue helper

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to work in animal rescue, Seal Rescue Ireland has a truly unique experience to offer! Spend a day behind the scenes in Courtown, County Wexford, where you will get to know the seals, learn how to prepare food and feed them, and get hands-on experience of caring for the centre’s orphaned, sick and injured animals. If you can’t bear to leave these adorable creatures after one day, Seal Rescue Ireland offers longer courses of up to 12 weeks where you assist with animal rescue and rehabilitation as well as the day-to-day of caring for the seals.

5 Visit a donkey sanctuary

Traditionally, donkeys have been used as working animals on farms, but now thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary these fluffy friends can live a life of leisure. Head to one of their branches in Liscarroll, County Cork or Belfast to learn about the amazing work they do and see the donkeys in their paddocks and stables being groomed, fed or playing with balls and toys. You may even be lucky enough to give them a scratch if the donkeys decide to approach you! Admission is free and the sanctuary grounds are open to all, so round off your visit with a long walk and a picnic.

6 Forage for your supper

The most sustainable meal you’ll ever eat is the one you foraged yourself. Explore the wilds of County Leitrim and forage for mushrooms with an expert guide. Tina Pommer will teach you how to identify what’s safe to eat and what’s not, after which you’ll be brought out to the woodland to put your new skills to the test. For Tina, foraging is more about experiencing and understanding nature than stocking up the pantry: “When I bring out a small group into nature, I encourage people to be respectful, everybody can take a handful and have a look. It is all about being sustainable.”

7 Try some sustainable shopping…

When it comes to sustainable travel, nothing is more important than where you shop. Cut out the plastic gifts and pick up local crafts, natural products and sustainable souvenirs at eco-friendly shops around the island of Ireland.

In County Antrim, Belfast's first dedicated zero waste shop has opened at Refill Quarter. Here you can pick up everything you need for a sustainable holiday, from reusable coffee cups made from recycled coffee grounds to package-free snacks for your journey. Pax Whole Foods and Eco Goods in Westport, County Mayo, offers not only delicious food, but a huge range of crafts and toys to bring home to friends and family. Head to Clonakilty in stunning West Cork and you’ll find the best in local, organic produce at Twig Refill, with natural soaps, candles and scents that will keep the memories of your visit alive long after you get home.

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