Why people around Ireland have decided to #BreakUpWithPlastic this Valentine’s and fall in love with a plastic-free alternative

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People around Ireland are ending their toxic relationship with plastic and sharing their new plastic-free love stories. Clean Coasts want to hear how the people of Dublin are committing to #BreakUpWithPlastic!

As Valentine’s Day approaches, people all over Ireland are ending their relationship with single-use plastic items they thought they couldn’t live without by finding new, more sustainable loves! Clean Coasts in partnership with Irish Water and the Think Before You Flush campaign are inviting the people of Dublin to share how they’ve ended a toxic relationship with plastic and fallen in love with a plastic-free alternative instead!

Why #BreakUpWithPlastic?

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.

Stories of new found loves have been flooding in on Clean Coast’s social media, with one romantic soul saying: “plastic is the hardest thing to break up with, but I have regular hook ups with my keep cups and am eyeing up the shampoo bars in regular shops by popular brands.” Why not share your plastic-free love story?

Ireland has some of the most diverse and spectacular coastlines in the world. However, our excessive use of plastic is polluting our oceans, as studies show 80% of marine litter comes from land based activities. It is also having impacts on our waterways and threatening our marine wildlife and people’s health.  According to Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup Report 2020, the most common items found on the Irish Coast were plastic food wrappers, cigarette butts and plastic beverage bottles.

Other problem items include wipes, cotton buds, dental floss and sanitary products, many of which contain plastic. The common misconception that these items can be flushed, even if labelled ‘flushable’, causes blockages in our network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants. They can also end up on our beaches and in our oceans, where they can break down into microplastics and damage our marine environment. Think Before You Flush is a public awareness campaign addressing the issue of flushing these unsuitable items down the toilet.

As part of #BreakUpWithPlastic, the Think Before You Flush campaign are asking you to say goodbye to single-use wipes. When this isn’t possible, make sure you ‘love your loo’ and dispose of them properly in the bin, and never down the toilet.

Speaking about the campaign, Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts said: “This year Clean Coasts want to hear your good news stories of how you have been able to break up with single use plastic. We realise it can be difficult to make the break from single use, especially with all that is going on, so for anybody starting the journey towards new, reusable, long-lasting loves, we have tips and hints on our website to get you started.”

Talking about the size and scale of the problem associated with flushing the wrong things down the toilet, Tom Cuddy, Irish Water said, “Everyday people flush thousands of items such as wet wipes down the toilet instead of simply putting them in the bin. This causes blockages in our network, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants. Recent studies have found that 4 out of 10 people admit to flushing wipes down the toilet. It is no surprise therefore that we are clearing approximately 2,000 blockages from our wastewater network every month. A significant proportion of which are caused by wipes.”

Tom continued, “People are using more wipes than ever to keep hands and surfaces clean. While it is critical that we follow the HSE guidance, it is important that we dispose of items like wipes correctly. A simple solution is to only flush the 3 P’s – pee, poo and paper down the toilet and throw wipes and other sanitary products in the bin. In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, Think Before You Flush are asking you #BreakUpWithPlastic and bin your wipes.”

Get involved

Active participation of just 3.5% of a population can bring about change – 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!

Top tips to help you #BreakUpWithPlastic this Valentine’s:

  1. Planning on getting that special someone a box of chocolates? Choose one with no plastic packaging.
  2. Want to spoil your loved one with a swoon-worthy bouquet? Opt for no plastic wrapping.
  3. Rather keep it simple? Buy unwrapped Valentine’s cards or make your own!

Join the campaign on social media @CleanCoasts and at www.cleancoasts.org/our-initiatives/break-up-with-plastic/

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