Lyndsey O’Connell, VOICE Ireland‘s Sick of Plastic Campaign Lead, works to bring attention to the issue of plastic pollution, and campaigns for measures which will dramatically reduce its impact.
Speaking to Plastic Free Post, Lyndsey gives her take on the importance of tackling plastic pollution, how to reduce plastic consumption, and her favourite plastic free thing in the world.
Why is plastic pollution an important issue to tackle?
In 2020 microplastics were found in the snow on the top of Mount Everest and as far down in the ocean as humans have been able to reach: the Marianne trench.
We are witnessing the devastation caused by the over production of plastic around the world. Our seas are choking with it, our lands are polluted and leaking dangerous chemicals into our waterways and our skies are polluted with the toxic smoke from our over-burdened incinerators.
Plastic pollution affects our environments, our health and our pockets. The plastic used to wrap our foods and found on our supermarket shelves has been linked to cancer, obesity; endocrine disruption and gender dysmorphia. Our domestic waste bins are laden down more and more with needless poor quality packaging and it is our tax money that has to sort the problem.
Plastic is everywhere. The safety equipment for our children, our aeroplanes and wrapped around our food. We are never going to rid the world of plastic but we can do something to stop the overproduction of it.
According to the world economic forum plastic production is set to quadruple by 2050. This is a concerted effort by the fossil fuel industry that is trying to bolster their dwindling profits due to the popularity of hybrid cars and better, more efficient home heating solutions. Plastic is big business but it is also a big problem. That is why it is more important than ever to tackle the issue head on and reduce plastic production where it is unnecessary and single-use.
Only 9 percent of plastic around the world has been recycled. We cannot recycle our way out of this problem. We need to reduce, reuse and refuse plastic.
What is the one thing you do to reduce your plastic footprint?
Notice it. Once you start to notice the amount of unnecessary plastic around you and your home, it’s difficult to stop seeing it. Is it right that the water bottle you purchased to quench your thirst will stay in the ground for 400 years? Whilst we are waiting for policy to catch up with our environmental needs there are simple swaps we can make as consumers that will have a huge impact on the amount of plastic making its way to our landfills and incinerators.
Use a reusable water bottle (fill up at home and bring with you, use public taps to refill, check our the handy refill.ie map for free refilling stations all around Ireland)
Use a reusable coffee cup. Ireland uses 22,000 disposable coffee cups an hour. Compostable and biodegradable options are still single-use and are usually never disposed of properly. If we use reusable coffee cups we can make a world of difference.
Make some simple home swaps: Use soap not plastic bottles. Find your nearest refill store and refill shampoo, conditioners, cleaning products, nuts lentils and other bulk items.
Talk to your local supermarket manager and ask them to reduce plastic.
Do you have any product that you like that helps to reduce plastic?
We love the new Tru-Eco range from Viva Green that stock refill shops around Ireland and are moving into the major supermarkets here too. The Tru Eco range is made here in Ireland from plant-based and biodegradable ingredients. Each bottle is made from 100 percent recycled plastic, and they are reusable, recyclable and refillable creating a truly circular economy product.
Buying behaviours are changing and consumers are actively looking for eco-friendly / refill solutions. TruEco are leading the way in this regard.
What is your favourite plastic-free thing in the world?
People. Although we ingest about a credit card worth of plastic a week in our food, for the most part we are plastic free and are a beautiful, creative species who will work our way out of this plastic crisis.