SWB leaps upon her soapbox


So here’s a scary statistic to greet you of a morning. Since the 1950s enough plastic has been produced to cover the whole of Argentina. And Argentina, in case you were unaware, is huge. I’m just after Googling it, and it’s about forty times bigger than Ireland. That’s a significant size, don’t you think? I haven’t been yet, but it’s on the list. I digress. Most of this plastic has been produced in the last decade, and most of it ends up dumped in landfill. I think this is the evidence that should finally start filtering through to people, that it’s imperative to stem the tide and think  about our cavalier approach to the using and disposing of plastic.

At the minute, if you start trotting around with your reusable cup and posting things on Facebook about the flood of single use plastic items, people get a trifle irked. I should know, being one of these members of the  anti-plastic brigade. But please, in no way do I want to sound like a sanctimonious twat. I grew up in Bangor, I spent my formative years surrounded by sanctimonious twats and I didn’t care much for them either. But I think, given President Trump’s utter disregard for the environment and the sheer number of single use plastic items out there, would it not be time to reconsider our options and tweek our life-styles to make some tangible difference?

Here’s a few changes I’ve started to implement:

  • Gift wrap- Apparently wrapping paper, once it’s been stuck with sello-tape can’t be recycled, so to stop mounds of it from going into landfill I’ve started thinking of alternatives.  No, I’m not buying into the gift bag phenomenon  (although I shamelessly reuse the ones I have) but I’m popping the gifts in to little shoe bags from Søstrene Grene. I organised the presents for the P1 teachers this year and this was how I packaged the presents. There were no complaints, in fact the teachers seemed to like this somewhat innovative idea, and they can chuck their heels in the bag and remember me fondly when they head to Lanzarote on their hols.


  • Coffee cups-Yip, here’s me, headless of course, outside Established coffee shop with my lovely porcelain cup. Just keep one in your motor, or if you have a massive handbag, stash it there. Same for a knife and fork or chopsticks if you’re prone to nipping out unexpectedly for lunch. (Seriously, is it any wonder I’m broke? I need to address my addiction to food outlets.)
  • Bottled water- Now, aside for in Lancashire, where fuck knows what they did to the water but the locals were near poisoned, our water is lovely, and safe to drink. So why are we buying shedloads of the bottled stuff? I get it if you’re out and about and overcome with a powerful thirst, but this should be an emergency option, not an everyday event. It’s allegedly the age of austerity. If you can drink water for free, drink it. I used to bring a Zigg bottle filled with water to school, from which I sipped at regular intervals, so parched was I from all the teaching. The kids were always keeping me going that it was wine or indeed something stronger within, and on many’s a day I wished to God it had been. But I thought it was a good example to set, that you didn’t need to be seen sipping from a new Evian bottle everyday.
  • Children’s parties- plastic disaster all round. Parties will be getting their very own post entirely dedicated to them but in the meantime, I’ve recently seen loads of reusable cups and plates and table cloths being used and fair play to the mums and dads who are doing this. Go a step further. Address the issue of presents. I do not need any more plastic shit in my house. You wanna buy my kids a gift? Work away. Plenty of gorgeous books out there or a jigsaw to keep them busy. Lego, Playmobil, that too will keep them occupied. But I do not want or need a pile of plastic tat that they play with once then I fall over for the next few months.
  • Bathroom products-I’ve written before about LSB’s hairiness and his penchant for shower gel, which he works his way through like shit through a goose. Well, we were up in Derry last week and I bought a couple of manly soap and shampoo bars out of the wonderful Yellow Yard. It is so worth a visit and I got a trifle carried away I must admit. Anyway, he’s been using away at his zingy mint and T-tree bars with no complaint. (As I keep saying, he is a lovely sort of a fellow.)
  • Event management- Here’s a final bugbear before I go on. Running events, and the sheer environmental havoc they must cause. Could we not follow Carlingford’s lead, where they had reusable plastic cups that were used at the water stations and collected after? Small paper cups could be another alternative. There simply should not be masses and masses of plastic bottles going into the bin. I went round after Lisburn 10k, harassing the chaps from the council as to whether the bottles would actually be recycled. Not a straight answer to be had, so I’m guessing probably not. Not good and not on.

There endeth the sermon. If we can manage to remember our Bags for Life and composting our food waste, surely we could make a concerted effort to whittle down our reliance on plastic. And the bonus is, you won’t have to read another didactic diatribe such as this.

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