Individuals

Small changes, made now

‘Human behaviour flows from three main sources:
desire, emotion and knowledge’

Plato

 
 
 
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Hints & Tips

Trust us to show you how it’s done

Tips for a sustainable office

People are far less likely to recycle at work than at home. They tend to feel a lack of responsibility because they are not paying for the items and are too time poor to instate rules and procedures for others to follow. Equally, they are unsure about what the right thing to do and what should go where. Some who are making an effort unwittingly contaminate recycling bins by putting the wrong things in the wrong bin.

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Think before you drink!

Bottom line, when you end up buying drinks on the go you are creating and contributing to waste, as that plastic bottle will either need to be recycled, incinerated or go to landfill. The chances of it ending up as litter in our rivers and seas is as high as 85%. Bring your own bottle with you where ever you go and fill up on good, high quality Irish tap water whenever you can.

Spaghetti Bolognese – reduce your waste

This is easily one of the most popular dinners in Ireland - hearty, filling and delicious! We decided to take a look at packaging associated with it: what people buy in the shop every day to make this dinner at home. We shed light on what can and cannot be recycled and suggest alternatives so that you, the consumer, can reduce the amount of waste you end up sending to landfill.

Soft Plastics

Soft plastics are not currently recyclable in Ireland. The guidelines for Irish consumers’ state that they must be thrown in the household rubbish bin. Soft plastics are anything that scrunches up and then loosens out again – like a plastic bag, cling film, that bag the apples come in, film on the top of fruit punnets and the list goes on and on. Until there is a market for them we are not going to collect them up. So, for now (unfortunately) you need to just put them in the rubbish bin. 

Bamboo Toothbrushes

Plastic toothbrushes are not recyclable. They languish in landfills or end in the seas as  marine  litter causing untold damage to marine life. Try using a toothbrush made from sustainably harvestedbamboo instead. In landfill a bamboo toothbrush will not leach dangerous toxins and minus the bristles (made of nylon usually) your bamboo toothbrush can be composted.  Pop it in your brown bin to go to an industrial composter or use a home composter but be aware it might take some time to break down.  Think about reuse – write on it to label the seeds in your garden.  

Pegs

Broken plastic pegs cannot be recycled as they contain metal. They break into small pieces and get lost in the grass working their way into the soil or the mouth of poor unassuming wildlife. Bring your pegs in off the line when not in use to prolong their life and try wooden ones  from a sustainable source instead.

 
 

Bees wrap

Cling film is not recyclable. Bees wrap is a natural alternative. And it works! It needs the heat of your hands to mould the section around whatever it is you want to protect. It can be rewashed numerous times and reused. Alternatively, just plop a plate over that bowl of leftovers. Plates work perfectly well too!

Soaps

Is your bathroom full of plastic bottles?  That’s a lot of unnecessary packaging. Firstly, don’t forget to recycle those plastic containers when they are empty. It’s easy to forget them when they are upstairs in the bathroom. Secondly, look out for  smarter, convenient AND sustainable alternatives.  Like soap! There are beautiful soap companies out there now, creating everything from shampoo bars to body scrubs, shaving bars, to conditioners. More often than not, they also come in sustainable packaging too, and are made locally. All the wins!

 
 

Clean, Dry, Loose

Clean means clean means clean. Items that get put into the recycling bin with food residue, or are damp, will contaminate the whole bin. This can be avoided by rinsing in the sink and letting the item drip dry until they are ready to place in the bin. Ideally, items should be put in loosely and not stacked one inside the other i.e. don’t pack the empty cereal box with multiple yoghurt cartons.  

Food Waste

Is your waste bin heaving? How much of that is food waste? If you live in an area with 500 people or more you are entitled to a brown bin from your waste provider and you have a legal obligation to dispose of food waste correctly (by putting it in your brown bin, by composting it, or by bringing it to a central composting location). In reality, the waste providers are playing catch up and it can be difficult to procure a brown bin, even if you want one. When you bin excess food you basically bin money. And when food ends up in landfill, it creates dangerous green house gases. 

Think Before You Flush

People flush all kinds of things down the loo, including dental floss, tampons, tampon applicators, contact lenses, nappies, wipes, plasters, ear buds, and cotton pads.  None of these should be flushed down the toilet. Why? They block the system, they do not degrade and they pollute the water systems. So use a bin not the loo and make smart choices.  For example,  tampons come in different shapes and sizes.  A non-applicator tampon produces least waste.  The paper applicators are more waste but the biggest culprit is the plastic applicator.  Avoid these and you are making change by degrees.  For all out change investigate mooncups! 

Bathroom Etiquette 

The bathroom is the second biggest producer of perfectly recyclable material, after the kitchen. Can you fit a second bin in there? If so, give those shampoo bottles a rinse when finished and keep them separate from the other general waste. Equally, know what can in fact be recycled and what cannot not. Currently, we are being told to ignore all symbols and numbers on rigid plastic items and to place all rigid materials (regardless of colour, symbol or number) in the household-recycling bin. 

Tube Know-How

Tubes are impossible to empty completely.  As a result, an empty tube of toothpaste is not recyclable. An empty tube of tomato puree is not recyclable. An empty tube of face cream is not recyclable. We just can’t get them completely empty and thus they are not completely clean. 

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Compostable Does Not Equal Recyclable

COMPOSTABLE cups/plates/bowls can only go in an industrial composter after use. If you’ve a brown bin at home, that’s where all your compostable waste gets taken away to. Home composters can’t compost compostable cups/plates/bowls. That take away compostable coffee cup? Needs to be put in a bin you know is going to go for industrial composting. It is NOT recyclable. The lid should be compostable too, but check to be sure as it might just be plastic. The problem is you’ve gone and bought your coffee in a nice compostable cup but as you go about your day and finish it you realize there’s no composting bin on the street to put it in. It’s not recyclable, just remember that. You’re probably going to end up having to chuck it in a regular waste bin ☹️ Regular take away coffee cups go in the WASTE bin. Lids and paper sleeve can go in the recycling bin, IF CLEAN.  
Conversely SOME plastic glasses and plates are recyclable IF CLEAN. You need to check to be 100% sure though.
So, now you know 

 

 
 

Yoghurt Pots 

Yoghurt comes in many shapes and sizes!   Rule one, buy the biggest pot you can and that reduces the packaging.  Lots of small pots lots of waste.  You can put portions of the yoghurt into reusable containers for packed lunches. Individual plastic pots can be recycled when clean and dry but the lid is soft plastic and has to go in the rubbish bin.  Bigger pots sometimes have a cardboard sleeve you can remove to recycle. Then clean and dry the rigid plastic pot and the lid and recycle those too. The soft plastic lid has to go in the rubbish.  Some brands use glass jars.  They can be brought to a bottle bank for recycling – or reused as glasses or containers in your home.  Yoghurt tubes are soft plastic and can’t be recycled.  They have to go in the rubbish bin. 

Pet Food

Lots of us love our pets and lavish the best food we can afford on them.  The packaging you choose matters.  Tins of cat food can be easily recycled, but only if they are empty, clean and dry.  Imagine working in a recycling plant sorting waste and being confronted with smelly old cat food!  The soft plastic pouches can’t be recycled. So they go in the rubbish bin.  The rigid plastic tubs can be recycled if clean and dry, but the foil lid goes in the rubbish bin. And the foil tubs also need to go the rubbish bin as they are not currently recyclable in Ireland. 

 
 

Free The Fruit & Veg 

Individually wrapped foods are a symbol of how convenience is leading to excess waste.   Individually wrapped crackers, biscuits, tea bags, chocolate bars, etc.   Perhaps they help to avoid waste for people who needed smaller portions, but most of us could live without them.  Individually wrapped tea bags take the biscuit!  Tea in a bag, with a tag, in a wrapper, in a box, wrapped in plastic.  Really!  Try loose tea or tea bags that are happy to coexist in the packet.  Several brands are working on removing the plastic that holds tea bags together in response to consumer demand.   

Individually Wrapped 

Individually wrapped foods are a symbol of how convenience is leading to excess waste. Individually wrapped crackers, biscuits, tea bags, chocolate bars, etc. Perhaps they help to avoid waste for people who needed smaller portions, but most of us could live without them. Individually wrapped tea bags take the biscuit! Tea in a bag, with a tag, in a wrapper, in a box, wrapped in plastic. Really! Try loose tea or tea bags that are happy to coexist in the packet. Several brands are working on removing the plastic that holds tea bags together in response to consumer demand.   

 
 
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The Green Dot

The green dot – which is not always green - does not mean the packaging is recyclable.  It just means the producer of the packaging has contributed to the recovery and recycling of the packaging.   

 
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“I always go to you ladies for up to date information on local recycling, the latest eco friendly products and  any earth friendly events happening around Ireland.”

Kate Hobbins-Lockett,
Ballincollig

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“I’ve always recycled but now it’s up to the next level. I’ve also picked up so many tips and product recommendations. Here’s to leaving a better world for our children.”

Joanna,
Midleton

 
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