Plastic Free July - Week 2
Plastic Free July
For Plastic Free July, our very own Rebecca MacCann has agreed to live as plastic free as possible for the month and blog about her experience.

Click on the links to read Part 1Part 3 and the final Part 4 of Rebecca's Plastic Free July  blog!  

Week 2 Diary Entry

My first week of Plastic Free July (click here to read the first blog post) is over, and it was a week of mixed emotions.  

It all started with my trip to a major food retailer with STH. I wanted to see how easy it was to avoid single-use plastic in a large supermarket.  After about 30 seconds in, I was overwhelmed.  You know when people point out inconsistencies in movies, like recently in Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen's Starbucks coffee cup made its way on screen – you can't 'unsee' the mistakes.  It was the same experience here.  There was so much single-use plastic everywhere. Granted, a good amount of fruit and vegetables were available without packaging, but why does a cucumber need to be in a plastic sleeve? 

Needless to say, my shopping cart ended up being very haphazard and full of tinned goods. Then we arrived at the confectionery aisle.  Unfortunately, most confectionery is packaged in single-use plastic, which didn't bode well for my relationship, but then we saw it – chocolate packaged in cardboard – success!  Several bars were purchased.  We went home, put on an episode of Stranger Things 3, opened the cardboard packaging on one of the bars…but we were foiled!!! 

Anyway, we got by with our shop and I made a trip later in the week to The Food Co-Op in Kilmainham to suss out their range of 'zero waste' products.  I was very impressed.  The Dublin Food Co-Op was formed back in 1983 to provide the people of Dublin with an option to buy in bulk to reduce their carbon footprint and to share costs. The Food Co-Op operates numerous 'zero waste gravity bins' from which you can pick the rice, grain, pulse, nut or pasta of your choosing.  Don't forget to bring your own containers which they will pre-weigh for you.  The choice of products is excellent and by filling my large glass containers, I saved a few euro in the process. If you join the membership scheme, you can avail of further discounts and make bulk and special orders at discounted rates. 

Keeping in theme with Plastic Free July, last Saturday morning I woke up at my not so usual time of 8.00am (it's proper daylight at this time – who knew!) and joined the Friends of the Grand Canal ("FOTGC") for their monthly clean-up of the Grand Canal. This volunteer group has been on the go for the last 12 years and they meet up at 10.00am on the first Saturday of every month at the Leeson St. bridge to clean the stretch of the Grand Canal running from Grand Canal Street to Harold's Cross bridge. Volunteers are furnished with high-vis jackets, protective gloves and rubbish pickers and then sent off in small groups to clean up a section of the canal.  You may or may not have noticed already, but there is a lot of rubbish along the canal, particularly plastic rubbish.  What really boggles the mind though is the fact that there are plenty of bins dotted along the canal. So that means the littering is either out of pure laziness, or worse, a total disregard for the environment.  Whilst picking up rubbish along the stretch between Baggot Street and Percy Place, I even noticed a cyclist toss a plastic bottle into the canal as he was cycling by…

I highly recommend volunteering with the FOTGC.  Apart from the fact that I have never been thanked so much in my life by passers-by, there is genuinely a great sense of achievement doing something so tangible and proactive within the local community.  If this clean-up location doesn't suit you, there are others: 

  • Royal Canal Clean-Up Group -  here
  • Grand Canal Dock Community Clean-Up via facebook page -  here
  • Grand Canal Bio-Diversity and Clean-up Group via facebook page here
  • Inchicore Environmental Group via facebook page here
  • Dodder Action Group here

As I pondered over my flat white and avocado toast last Sunday (no wonder I don't have my own house), I realised that whilst I may not be the greatest plastic-free champion out there, the longer this month goes on, the more committed I am to find and use plastic-free alternatives. Granted, going plastic-free is not going to solve the climate crisis but it might make the environment more pleasant from our perspective and certainly more liveable for animals.  

Stay tuned next week to find out about local businesses going plastic free and other steps I am taking to go plastic-free - I'm talking clay toothpaste people!