Easy Ways to Break Up With Single-Use Items

23 Jan 2019

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Let’s start with a short definition of what a single use or disposable item is as it covers more than just plastic. “A disposable (also called disposable product) is a product designed for a single use after which it is recycled or is disposed as solid waste [Wikipedia]. This covers a multitude of items such as coffee cups, drinking straws, carrier bags, bus/train tickets, take away food and even teas bags, some of these are pretty obvious but some we would never even consider. Here at MyWaste we believe that prevention is better than cure and we apply the principles of the waste hierarchy in all of the work we carry out.

We are presented with single use items every day and they are difficult to avoid but there are some easy alternatives, here we’ve highlighted some easy ways that can help you to reduce the need for single use items.

Reusable Coffee Cups

Here in Ireland carrying your own cup has become fashionable and you see a multitude of  types and brands of cups for sale in cafes and shops. We work closely with the Conscious Cup Campaign, a really simple idea that asks cafes and shops to rewards customers for bringing their own cup. This reward or incentive comes in the form of a discount or extra loyalty points/stamps so it’s a win win for everyone. It’s easy to find out who will reward you, keep an eye out for the Conscious Cup Logo in the window and they also have a map to show you where you can go in your area.

Shopping bags

The plastic bag levy was a great success and we now all carry our tote bags or bags for life to take the shopping home but there is still one area within the supermarkets that we seem to not consider and this is when we purchase baked goods or loose fruit and veg. We simple grab the single use bag provided without thinking but why not bring along some extra bags for these items, you can buy cotton bags of various sizes just for this

Water Bottles

Ireland has excellent quality drinking water so it’s just madness to buy bottled water. At home if you don’t like to drink the water straight from the tap when not get yourself a water filter, either fitted directly to the tap or a jug that you can keep cool in the fridge. For when you’re out and about get yourself a reusable bottle and just like the coffee cup its fashionable and you can buy them everywhere. When you’re on the go and you need a refill check out www.refill.ie , they have a map showing you all the locations that will fill your bottle for free, no questions asked!

Disposable Cutlery

There are many alternatives, you could simple carry some from home or make sure to leave some in work for the days you might get a lunch and bring it back to your workplace. There are alternative you can buy which sometimes come in handy little pouches helping to keep them clean in your bag, if you only carry a small bag or no bag why not try chopsticks?

Tickets

This is one which you may not think of but we are given tickets for so many things; buses, trains, cinema, gigs etc.. but do we need them? No is the answer, many places will now accept and e-ticket on your phone and for public transport you could use  a leap card or similar which will also save you money.

Take Away Containers

Try to avoid pre prepared and packed food, many stores will allow you to bring your own container. For food deliveries it will be impossible to avoid the single use containers but maybe find out from the restaurant what kind of containers they use and try to stick to the places that use cardboard and compostable containers

Government Response

With the plastics strategy currently being drafted for Ireland the government are in 2019 taking steps to lead the way but banning single use items within their own buildings. This can be used as a pilot and will lead for a smooth transition when the plastics strategy comes into force in the future.  

In January 2019, the Government decided that Government Departments and Public Bodies will lead the way in reducing generation of single use plastics and waste. This decision recognises that the public service must demonstrate its commitment to sustainable development and use its influence to persuade others of the changes required to reduce our impact on the environment.  The main changes include:

  • With immediate effect, Government Departments will not supply, directly or indirectly, single use plastic beverage containers, cutlery or straws. This restriction will also apply to all Public Bodies including State Agencies and schools from the 31st of March 2019 unless specific public health/hygiene or safety issues arise.
  • By the 31st of March 2019, the Department will work with the Office of Government Procurement to bring forward proposals on the implementation of green public procurement.
  • Each Government Department is required to develop a resource efficiency action plan for publication by the end of June 2019. These plans are designed to help staff make savings in water, materials and energy use as well as preventing food waste and maximising recycling within their work environment.
  • By 30th November 2019, all Public Bodies will be required to provide a report to their respective Minister on the measures they are taking to minimise waste generation and maximise recycling; a guidance document has been prepared and this which outlines the areas of which focus will be placed.

In February 2019, this Department with the SEAI and EPA will arrange a short workshop which will introduce Government Departments to the broader concepts of resource efficiency; how resource efficiency action plans can be devised for their offices and how all Public Bodies can successfully embed sustainability behaviours.

For more information please check out the Green Government website

Images sourced – https://www.aquarium.co.za/blog/entry/our-favourite-alternatives-to-disposable-plastic-items