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reuse

Green

October is Reuse Month – What Will You Re-imagine?

September 30, 2017

October is ReUse Month - What Will You Re-Imagine?

Can Every Month be Reuse Month?

October is Reuse Month here in Ireland and over the coming weeks it’s likely you’ll come across several actions encouraging people to think about reducing, reusing or upcycling their ‘rubbish’. Running for the second year, this is an initiative of the Regional Authorities (@CRNIIreland) to promote reuse and a great opportunity for us all to think about waste and how we can re-imagine or eliminate it.

October is Reuse Month - What Will You Re-imagine?

Cress seeds growing in an upcycled chocolate box

At a SUSY in Ireland event in Waterford recently, I was invited to demonstrate how everyday items can be used in gardens to save money, create art, as well as protect the environment. From Ferrero Rocher chocolate boxes that we can reuse as seed containers and old cutlery as garden chimes, there are so many other uses for our rubbish once we begin to look at it differently.

Last week, a local community gardening project in Gleann na Bearu, Bagenalstown, County Carlow, entered both local and national upcycle competitions for their many reuse garden projects. Pride of place is the artistically created greenhouse shown above. It was mostly created from 2 litre plastic drink bottles collected by the community. If you’d like to learn more about it or other upcycled projects in the garden, you can view them on their Facebook page or if you’re nearby, visit the garden on Wednesdays between 9.30am to 11.30am.

October is Reuse Month - What Will You Re-Imagine?

Single Use Cups

One very quick way we can make a difference in helping to reduce rubbish that otherwise heads to landfill is by stopping or reducing our use of single use cups. As a nation we managed to decrease our plastic bag use by a whopping 90% with the introduction of a small tax, surely we can do the same with disposable cups without one?

In July, the Green Party introduced a Waste Reduction Bill to the House of the Oireachtas encouraging this and more initiatives; the bill has since been referred to the select committee for consideration. The transcript of Eamon Ryan’s debate explaining the reasons behind the bill can be found online. One of the problems we face with disposable cups, is that even if single use cups say they are recyclable, there are no recycling plants in Ireland that are able to recycle them and only one of two in the UK are actually doing so.

The Conscious Cup Campaign in Ireland are doing a great job highlighting the shocking waste caused by disposable cups and are encouraging cafés around the country to pledge to help by offering discounts on customer bills if they bring their own reuse cups. Minister Naughten commented on the problem of single-use containers and waste in Ireland during a speech to The Dáil in July 2017,

“As a society we discard an incredible 80% of what we produce after a single use. It gravely concerns me that 2 million disposable coffee cups a day are going to our landfills.”

VOICE Ireland Recycling Ambassadors

When I returned to adult education earlier this year, it galled me to see plastic spoons, non recyclable cups and plastic lids being thrown into black plastic bags in their hundreds, on a daily basis. I asked the canteen if they’d consider doing something about it given the negative environmental impact and was pleased to see a box of wooden stirring sticks appear on the counter the following week; sticks that can at least be composted or made into plant pot labels. Sadly that was the only move to sustainability I became aware of while I was there. I began taking in a travel mug every day and asked for my tea to be made in that.

October is Reuse month - what will you re-imagine?

Photo courtesy: Conscious Cup Campaign

Wouldn’t it have been amazing if the contractors had taken the initiative on-board and encouraged all students to do the same? They could have reduced the cost of the cuppa on till receipts if they did so, after all, we’re saving them money on their cups, but alas, this wasn’t the case. As a newly appointed VOICE Ireland Recycling Ambassador, when I return to my studies next year I’ll be banging the recycling drum even louder and talking to the canteen contractors about the Conscious Cup Campaign and see if they’ll follow Trinity College’s footsteps!

Thankfully lots of cafe’s are beginning to take this on board. Fellow blogger Melanie May, has published a list of café s in Ireland that offer a discount if we bring our own cups; hopefully she’ll be updating it as more establishments come on board.

KeepCup

October is Reuse Month - What Will You Re-imagine?Baring all of this in mind, I was pleased to be sent a KeepCup (@KeepCup) by a PR company recently. After a few weeks of use, I’m happy to say it’s the best reusable cup I’ve tried. I’ve gone through a few brands over the years but usually give up on them because they drip. Whoever designed the sippy lip on the KeepCup got it exactly right. No more spillages down the front of the tee-shirt, it’s a marvel. I was invited to choose a colour from many variations and carry it around with me most days now. 

KeepCup is an Australian brand developed by Abigail and Jamie Forsyth, a sister brother team who were dismayed at the large volume of waste that resulted from their Melbourne based café.

October is Reuse month - what will you reimagine?

The reusable cups come in a variety of sizes, colours, materials and designs and are available to purchase in premium cafés nationwide or online. Cafés and businesses can order larger quantities of KeepCups from Dublin based, family run distributor EA Symmons. The one I received (12oz original) retails between €12.99 – €14.99 and is BPA free. 

According to Canadian chemist, Dr Martin Hocking, the requirement to manufacture a reusable plastic cup versus a paper cup over a lifetime use was under 15 uses. Disposable cups are lined with polyethylene and there is enough plastic in 28 disposable cups to make one small KeepCup. The cups are guaranteed for a year under general wear and tear use.

Single Use Water Bottles

It would be good to see a similar reuse campaign for single use plastic drink bottles next. If anyone can recommend a decent reusable water bottle that I can take to my fitness class, please leave a comment or get in touch!

Will you pledge to reuse, reduce or upcycle more? What initiatives are you already doing? I’d love to hear about them.

 

* Verified by Simon Lockrey from the Centre for Design at RMIT who completed a Symapro Life Cycle Analysis and has independently verified KeepCups sustainability claims.

 

Green

Compost – How each household could save up to €1,000 a year

January 9, 2012

Composting: How it can save you moneyIf you’re not already composting, the start of a new year is a good time to start afresh and plan to do so.

Last year I attended a very interesting seminar at the chambers given by Nuala on behalf of theStop Food Waste Campaign which, apart from giving us a free source of organic matter, explained why composting is so important. The campaign is a great initiative primarily aimed at reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfill each year, and encouraging us to think more carefully about how we shop, cook and eat.

Their website is a mine of information and well worth a look but a couple of points that were highlighted include:

  • The average person throws out the equivalent of three grown men of waste each year, 30% of which is made up of food and 7% of garden and landscaping materials.
  • One third of food that Irish households buy is wasted – the equivalent of a third of our groceries being stolen out of our shopping trolleys.
  • The average household could save up to €1,000 a year by avoiding this waste by composting.

From our own perspective I’m so glad we have chickens and dogs for the cooked food leftovers. We also keep our waste to a minimum by writing weekly shopping lists and compost as much as we can, just using a few old pallets to make a couple of containers to contain it. Those practices combined with recycling, means that our family of five produces on average one black bin bag of refuse destined for the landfill every two weeks.

Nuala highlighted a few different composting systems and I was particularly interested in the ones for smaller gardens, as I’m often asked about them.

One was a Bokashi which seems like a really handy way of composting if you don’t have a big garden but use an allotment. Wormeries are another great alternative to compost bins and heaps, especially if you don’t currently compost because you’re worried about vermin. It’s worth keeping an eye on the catalogues or in your garden centres as different products become available, such as this Earthmaker Aerobic Composter where research has shown that it will make twice as much compost as traditional bins over the same period.

If you have a few minutes, do take a couple of minutes to check out the Stop Food Waste website above.

For anybody who isn’t already composting and doesn’t have the Brown bin option for their ‘green’ waste, it was suggested that they get a small bucket with a lid and throw all their food waste into it for a week or two to see how much is thrown away.

Would you be willing to give that challenge a go?

If you’d like to know more about composting, there’s a free downloadable pdf file available in the Gardening Information and Jobs link above, giving full details on how to compost.