Action - 12 February 2019

en - Recycling Ambassadors

Who are they?

They are committed, civic minded individuals who volunteer to help persuade more of us to recycle our household waste. At the moment 42% of Irish households have signed contracts with Waste Disposal companies. But that means 58%, or more than half of us, have not.

We have seen images of seaside beaches covered in plastic “throw-outs” bottles, fast food containers, and so on. We know about the thousands of fish species being choked or poisoned by plastic. We also have heard about the everyday cosmetic products containing millions of tiny plastic beads. Humans are literally destroying the beautiful gift of creation entrusted to us. We are also destroying the future for the next generation, and we are effacing the image of God, and the possibility of the elements of earth to communicate divine life: water polluted, seeds poisoned, with climate change drying up land which would otherwise be productive.

We know all this, but is it too big a challenge? What difference can I, or a small community of 3, 4 or 5 make? A small suggestion: Look around your room. What items of plastic are there? Can you reduce your use of them, or change to another product that is not based on plastic or in a plastic container? If buying fruit or vegetables could you choose loose ones? Does broccoli have to be covered in plastic?

Read labels at the back of products. Did you know that FAIRY washing up liquid contains ingredients “harmful to aquatic life, of long duration” as it says?

It’s probably impossible to keep it all in mind, but even one small change helps.

“Reduce, Re-cover, Re-use, Re-cycle”. And others such as “repair….” Can you think of any more words or actions?

Here is what Dr. Kinsella, a scientist, said about the humble yoghurt carton, to illustrate what is now being called The Circular Economy:

“A yogurt tub is rigid plastic. All plastics come from oil. Oil comes from all over the world. It’s an unbroken global chain. The oil rigs. The injection moulding factories. The distribution networks and the shopping centres. Millions of engineers, supply chain managers, and quite a few cows, too,” explained Dr Kinsella.

“The tub is rigid plastic, so you pop it into your recycling bin filled with clean, loose, dry material. If you’re wrecked one evening and don’t wash out the tub, you potentially contaminate all of your recycling. Your recycling may then get sent to one of Ireland’s three or four rapidly-filling landfills. 95% of the potential economic value in plastic packaging currently goes to waste".

Waste costs money. We aren’t just throwing waste away, but throwing money in the bin too.

Scientists in Limerick University have found a unique use for used plastic water bottles: they are being made into extra strong plastic sheets for use in cars, trains, etc.

So, what is possible? Here are a few suggestions and examples.

Maybe we could be more careful about re-using? And of course, recyclying is one critical way of creating awareness and action re climate change by all those in our LSA communities, neighbourhoods, staff etc. Our JPIC was influenced by Eco-congregation information on recyclying ambassadors and together with VIVAT are giving priority to promoting workshops locally.

Sr Carmel Molloy has planned a workshop for February 25th for both Sisters and staff in our Finglas community. Recycling Ambassadors will visit and show how all attending can contribute more to this Circular Economy by more recycling.

Sr Lena is a member of a retired Sisters group all with different ministries from different congregations living in Ballymun as JPIC. Together they brought together 33 local residents for an excellent workshop in Ballymun on November 17th 2018. The facilitator brought along many practical examples of materials to be recycled and those not suitable for recyclying. The workshop was a great success, but much needs to be done to get our recyclying habits to change and a small group from within the attendance will take on the project with our support ….

In a few years time the EU will demand that our recycling efforts must rise to 65% of household waste, from 42% at present? Can we do it? Each one’s small effort….Every yoghurt pot….

Carol Dorgan for LSA JPIC Dublin.