Valentine’s Day is a time to reflect and appreciate the relationships in our lives. However, it can also be a time to reflect on our relationship to things that may not be benefitting us or our environment. Such as single-use plastic.
This February, Clean Coasts are calling for people all over Ireland to end their relationship with single-use plastic items they thought they couldn’t live without by finding new, more sustainable items to love and sharing what some of their favourite plastic-free alternatives are!
Dublin-based Clean Coasts group Bull Island Action Group have been tackling plastic pollution on Dublin’s Dollymount Beach for over 20 years. Through their social media channels, the group has been trying to also raise awareness about how long plastic lasts with a series of “retro rubbish” images of items they find on their beach cleans.
The group has been finding plastic bottles, wrappers and packaging that date back to between 30 and 50 years ago, as can be seen from the price or expiry date on them. The aim of the group is to highlight how plastic never dies and can take hundreds of years to biodegrade.
These plastic items can harm marine life, as they can get entangled in plastic items or ingest them.
Recent statistics show that Ireland is the number one plastic waste producer in the European Union, with 54kg of plastic waste per person produced each year, as well as being the country with the fourth lowest recycling rate.
The #BreakUpWithPlastic initiative aims to raise awareness of the impact of plastic pollution on our planet and marine environment by asking people to stop opting for single-use plastic.
Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts said: “We once again are asking people to stop and think how they are using plastic and to educate themselves about plastic and its impact. If we continue with the use of plastic as a single use item, we will continue to create immense waste issues and high demands on our natural environment. We need now more than ever before to discover ways to move away from the overly convenient individually packaged lifestyle we have adopted and find a way to break up with single use plastic.’ Sinead continued to say, ‘We realise it can be difficult to make the break from single use, so for anybody starting the journey towards new, reusable, long-lasting loves, we have tips and hints on our website to get you started.’
What Can We Do?
Throughout the month of February, to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Clean Coasts, alongside the Think Before You Flush campaign, will be sharing tips and resources to help people around Ireland to end their toxic relationship with single-use plastic and find themselves a better match.
Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign tackling the issue of sanitary waste projects being disposed of incorrectly. Everyday thousands of wet wipes, cotton buds, sanitary products and other unsuitable items are flushed down toilets in Ireland instead of being put in the bin, causing blockages and plastic pollution in rivers, on beaches and in the ocean. Think Before You Flush is operated by Clean Coasts and run in partnership with Irish Water.
Clean Coasts and Think Before You Flush will be sharing on social media and their website some downloadable resources, easy daily swaps, blog posts and more. In addition, Clean Coasts and the Think Before You Flush campaign will be hosting an Instagram Live session on 14th February at 12:30pm to discuss the impact of plastic on the marine environment, how to reduce plastic within our communities and actions that can be taken to protect our ocean from home.
Active participation of just 3.5% of the Irish population can bring about change – so imagine what could be achieved with more. Breaking up with plastic may seem daunting at first, but we’re here to help.
Check out how other people have already made the switch on social media @CleanCoasts and try out these top tips for Valentine’s Day below. All positive actions make a difference!
Join the campaign on social media @CleanCoasts and at www.cleancoasts.org.