The Clonakilty Carbon Countdown group was formed in December 2006 by Jennifer Sleeman, Founder and Honorary President of Sustainable Clonakilty, in response to the realisation that global warming was happening as a result of human activities on the planet, and that oil was running out. The aim of the group was to bring about local, practical, sustainable action to address these issues.
Many people felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of the changes required to address these new threats and unsure of what steps to take, and consequently took none or very few and hoped that the problem will go away.
However, by promoting local, practical sustainable actions the group hoped to encourage people to begin making lifestyle changes that would help. For example, if people start by making a small change and embed it into their lifestyle e.g. recycling household waste, they will begin to feel good about the fact that they are making a contribution and are more disposed to making additional changes.
It is about choosing things that can done quite easily and doing them properly. And particularly looking at what you yourself can do, not what “other people should do” . For example, you may choose to grow more of your own food, support the local economy by buying local products, avoid frivolous flying, rationalise your driving so that you make as few, and as short, trips as possible, use low energy lightbulbs etc.
In addition, awareness needed to be raised in the town council and other relevant authorities, business and industry in order to bring about positive changes that reduce the impact of people on the environment and scarce natural resources.
In 2010 aged 80, Jennifer retired from the Board of Sustainable Clonakilty and was granted life membership and later conferrred with the title, Honorary President.
However, as meetings progressed it became apparent that a comprehensive and proven approach was needed to bring about change and the Swedish ‘Natural Step’ process for sustainable communities was adopted. The name of the group changed to Sustainable Clonakilty in March 2007.