Zdenka in Dublin

I am originally from Slovakia and have been living in Dublin for over a decade now. I guess I never planned to stay this long but then life happened! I work for a building services consultancy firm but I am currently on maternity leave with our first-born, an 8-month old daughter.

What sparked your interest in sustainable living and where did you start?
I can say I was raised with a sustainable mindset but my parents didn’t call it like that back then, it was just the way things were. My Dad is still the best maker and repairman I know, my mum fills the pantry every year with preserves from the glut from their vegetable garden and she taught me to sew (or tried but I wasn’t too patient back then :))..and that’s just an example. They are both nature lovers, so me and my brother had a pretty idyllic upbringing – I mainly remember hikes and camping trips. At some point though, when I moved out and got some disposable income, the ‘modern convenience’ took over my mindset. And then, one day (working in the mecca of consumerism that is the largest shopping centre in Ireland), I came across an article about the zero waste lifestyle. I was intrigued but also thought it’s unachievable. But it stayed with me and I started to learn more. The Story of Stuff, Zero Waste Home and My Plastic Free Life were the starting points and it escalated from there!!

What keeps you motivated?
My friends and the sustainable community. I see that I am not alone trying to change things and I keep taking inspiration from around me as everybody has their own way of being more sustainable. It’s also great to hear someone telling me they did something ‘eco’ because they thought of me – that’s very rewarding, knowing that people are becoming more thoughtful and considerate in their ways. I think the community spirit and the encouragement that comes from it are the best aspects of living sustainably. All the support and goodwill makes you feel better about your decisions and gives a sense of a grassroots movement that’s helping to change the system and that is pretty cool.

What is a sustainable change you have made that makes you really happy?
It makes me really happy to connect with my food by growing a few things in my little urban garden. It is not much by any means but I really enjoy spending time tending to the plants and seeing them growing from seed to fruit. It also reminds me very vividly that eating locally grown food is not only important but very doable here in Ireland.

Are you tackling any sustainable changes at the moment you’d like to share or are planning to?
I suppose with the arrival of our daughter we entered a whole new territory of eco-challenges we want to tackle – raising kids sustainably. Where does one even start? Well, we started with elimination communication (infant potty training) and cloth nappies to avoid the potential massive waste from disposable nappies…and I am extremely happy that it works for us. We also got most of the baby paraphernalia second-hand – there is so much stuff already out there, and often only used for a short period of time, that it just makes sense to prolong its life.

What would you like to see in a sustainable future?

I would like to see the momentum that people like me and you create when doing their bit to live more sustainably, to be met with a system change. People in power – in politics and big companies – not only talk about taking steps but doing actual useful things to combat climate change. To create infrastructure that supports a future where we live within our planetary boundaries. And I’d like to see less mindless consumerism.

If one of your friends told you they wanted to start living more sustainably, what would be your top tip to get started?
My top tip would be to just start. Don’t overthink it. You can’t get from 0 to 100 overnight. But you can start overnight. Look at your life and find one thing that you can do better. Be it remembering the reusable bottle or a bag every time you leave the house, choosing to walk or cycle to work instead of driving once a week or swapping to a plant-based diet from the get go. Everybody is different and what works for one, will not for another. But there are hundreds of things you can do (read, listen, talk, educate yourself about them), so just go and start. Once you have one thing right, try another one. And if something doesn’t work for you, try something else. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. I promise, it’ll feel good once you start.

And For a bit of fun and… really find out about you…What was your first concert or your first CD/Tape/Record you owned?
Well just to say I wasn’t a cool kid…I remember one Christmas (ca 1995) I asked for the tape ‘Bocelli’ by Andrea Bocelli. When I got it, I was very happy 🙂 …and I like that album (and him) very much until this day.

Zdenka’s favourite shops…
I love cooking and baking and get my shopping fix in the zero waste food shops these days (hangover from the lockdowns I guess). So, I’d like to give a shout out to Noms in Phibsborough and the Good Neighbour in Dundrum. But basically any small, Irish-owned business there is! There are too many that I’d like to name…

You can follow Zdenka’s sustainable life journey on Instagram @comingtozero 

thank you Zdenka!

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