Universities across Ireland set to go plastic free on Wednesday

Published by Shamim Malekmian on

October 15th, 2018

Sixteen third level institutions in Ireland will go plastic-free this Wednesday as part of a sick of plastic environmental campaign.

University College Cork (UCC), Trinity College Dublin, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) are among the institutes that will participate in the sustainability initiative.

Ireland’s Union of Students (USI), the organising body of the challenge, said that it hopes the move will draw student attention to the “extensive use and production of plastic in Ireland”.

Aisling Cusack, USI’s Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, expressed hope that the plastic-free challenge will help students to realise the pervasiveness of plastic in their everyday lives.

“This day will highlight the everyday doings that don’t ultimately require plastic and how we can tackle the overuse of plastic by using reusable water bottles and alternatives to plastic,” Ms Cusack said.

“It will also highlight how difficult it can be to avoid plastic in certain areas on campus,” she continued.

“We have seen time and time again that students are open to change and with this campaign, we hope students can become aware of the changes they can make as well as work towards having a greener campus overall.”

UCC Green Campus Stall inside Boole Library Photo: Shamim Malekmian

Kelly Coyle, UCC’s Deputy President and Campaigns Officer said that the university’s students have responded positively to the eco-friendly initiative.

“We started a petition at the end of the week to get the university to go plastic-free, and we’ve got nearly 2,600 signatures so far,” Ms Coyle said. “That is fantastic, we were expecting some backlash, but we really didn’t get any at all.

“I think if we all started to look at how much plastic we are using, and everyone started to think what they can do to change it, it would start to reduce plastic waste. Otherwise, there is inevitably going to be a massive climate catastrophe,” she continued.

 Dublin City University to become ‘plastic-free’ by 2020 Photo: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Dublin City University to become ‘plastic-free’ by 2020 Photo: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY

USI has also called on students to monitor their energy consumption throughout the day as part of a separate ecological campaign known as “Student Switch Off”.

The EU plans to ban single-use plastic by the year 2030 as only 30 per cent of the 26 million tonnes of plastic produced by Europeans is collected for recycling every year.

Plastic pollution is a growing global issue with 8 million tonnes entering the world’s oceans every day – the equivalent of dumping a truckload of plastic into the ocean every minute.

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Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.