Over eight million tons of new plastic rubbish is finding its way into our oceans every year. It’s a frightening statistic, especially when you consider China’s plastics ban (from January 1 China will no longer take our plastic waste) and Ireland’s little capacity to recycle plastic. More than 95 per cent of Irish plastic was recycled in China in 2016.
So, while we wait for the government to come up with a strategy, what can we as individuals do to reduce the problem – before the 300,000 tonnes of plastic packaging that we generate annually starts piling up around us!
“Well for a start we need to call a halt to single use plastics,” says Kinsale woman Maggie Minnion, who for the past two years has been offering a re-fill service at her eye-catching market stall The Filling Station.
The Cork Environment Forum recently presented Maggie with an eco award in recognition of her work in helping people re-use single-use plastic bottles.
There are over 20 eco-friendly household products available at The Filling Station, from laundry liquid and hair shampoo to cider vinegar to plant food.
“Once people get into the habit of refilling it becomes second nature and they not only get the satisfaction of knowing they are saving the environment from unnecessary plastic pollution but they are also saving money, and getting quality eco-friendly products,” says Maggie.
Maggie’s Filling Station stall goes to weekly Farmer’s Markets in Kinsale (Wednesday), Clonakilty (Friday) and Skibbereen (Saturday). The stall also has other eco-friendly goods such as bamboo products (toothbrushes and socks), ’naked’ soaps, and some bulk foods such as organic rice.
“I have seen a marked increase in people’s awareness of the problems of plastic pollution. Walking along any beach or on TV programmes such as Blue Planet presented by Sir David Attenborough you see the problems caused by discarded plastic bottles,” she added. “ Switching to re-using single-use plastic containers is a simple way for all of us to reduce the problem.”
In welcoming the Award Kieron Phillips of the Environmental Protection Agency described the business as integrating economic, social and environmental benefits.