Too Much Plastic Waste in Ireland
One thing about living in Ireland that frustrates me is, the amount of plastic garbage thrown around. Ireland is a beautiful country, and the people who live here, for the most part, don’t seem to respect it. This can be seen in the amount of garbage flowing in the Liffey River, to the point that it has become a joke. This is also seen in the grocery stores in Ireland where everything comes wrapped in plastic. Now, you might think I’m exaggerating but really I’m not. Look at these pictures I snapped quickly the other night. Every piece of fruit and vegetable comes wrapped in plastic. The apples have to be bought in plastic wrapped bundles of six. Even a single cucumber is wrapped in plastic.
The only thing we found not in plastic were the bananas. And, that isn’t fully true because they also had bundles of plastic bag wrapped bananas in the store. Yes, because the natural wrapping of the banana peel isn’t enough they need to come bundled wrapped in plastic.
Something that I don’t think a lot of people realize is that a lot of the plastic used to wrap fruit and vegetables is not recyclable. Yes, that’s right, some plastics are not recyclable at all! That is why you don’t see the plastic recycling symbol on some plastic items. Some recycling centers only accept a few of the seven kinds of plastic for recycling. For the things that are recyclable, the process of recycling involves chemicals and other crap that leach and release leach and release harmful chemicals into the air over time. Yes, recycling is still better than just tossing plastic into the river, bit if it can be avoided in the first place that is the better solution.
Even the stuff that is recyclable is often not recycled. Ireland is currently the top producer of plastic waste in Europe, producing 61kg (134lbs) of plastic waste per person each year. Which makes sense if you visit a store or order takeout food. The food delivered from most restaurants arrives in plastic containers. Only two other countries produce plastic waste over 40kg. Luxembourg comes in at second, producing 52kg per person, and Estonia produces 46kg. Currently Ireland only recycles 35 per cent of its plastic waste. The rest of it ends up in landfills or rivers and oceans.
I will add that they did a study and not only is Ireland producing the most plastic waste, they are tossing it into the rivers. Business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) commissioned the the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce and found that, “40% of Irish beaches, harbours and waterways are ‘heavily littered.’ Only four out of 50 areas surveyed were found to be clean to European. standards.”
If you want to cut down on plastic waste Ireland, a good place would be the grocery store. Fruits and vegetables don’t need to be wrapped in so much plastic, paper bags next to the fruit section work just fine. Just be sure to wash them before eating as they are also covered in pesticides and other chemicals. But that is for another ranting blog post someday.