The Green Homes and Green Communities programmes have been running for almost a year in the county and have led to significant improvements in waste reduction and energy and water consumption.

The schemes have been run in partnership between the local authority, regulators and An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.

As well as providing more opportunities for residents to do the right thing, such as better recycling facilities or communal rainwater harvesting, the programmes have provided community education and helped raise awareness of important environmental issues.

The statistics speak for themselves, with 35% more residents saying they are avoiding buying over packaged goods, 12% more were recycling plastic, 24% more respondents were investing in insulation, the number of people who invested in ‘A’ rated energy efficient appliances rose by 35% and a substantial increase in the number of people who buy energy efficient light bulbs, turn appliances off standby mode and only use dishwashers and tumble dryers on full loads.

Niamh Leahy, EPA spokesperson, said the scheme’s success was a credit to community spirit.

“The vision is to develop the Green Home programme into a network of organisations and individuals working together towards a common goal,” she said.

“When people work together to create a cleaner environment such activities enhance community spirit.

“We want to mobilise communities in Ireland to live more environmentally sustainable lives and that is what these groups in Roscommon have been awarded for today.”

As well as general behavioural changes, each of the community groups organised specific actions in their towns and villages, such as setting up communal rainwater harvesting, WEEE collection or battery recycling.

Dorothy Stewart, Environmental Education Unit, An Taisce said: “The fundamental aim of the Green Home programme is to advise and support householders as they save money on their bills and reduce their impact on the environment.

“Results from the ‘before and after’ surveys have proven that the programme has been a success with improvements in behaviour in relation to waste generation, energy use, water consumption and transport choices.”

Sam Bond

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