By Barry Lord
A quick glance at some of our main roads and beaches would suggest that some people really don’t care about the damage done by throwing plastic away.
Plastic bottles, bags and food containers disposed out of vehicles by passing motorists and hurled into the sea by beach-goers can cause pollution and lasting damage to our environment, sea and wild life but often the warnings go unheeded , giving rise to a casual public acceptance.
But one Dublin woman is doing her bit to try and curb this worrying trend.
Saoirse Sheridan has founded a Plastic Awareness social group, through the hugely popular Dublin social networking site Meetup.com.
“I set up the group because I wanted to take some kind of personal action around plastic,” explained Saoirse.
“I am upset about seeing the pollution in the ocean and how it affects the wild life. I asked Jeff Burns (an organiser from Meetup) if I could set it up in his meet up group, New and Not so New in Dublin, as it’s the biggest group in the city.”
Saoirse’s group meets every second Tuesday at J.T. Pim’s on Great George Street. The aim is to bring together those who share Saoirse’s concerns about the dangers of plastic pollution into a warm and welcoming environment.
The group share ideas about how to make a contribution to protecting the planet by helping to bring down the amount of plastic disposables needlessly and often thoughtlessly tossed away.
So far the response to the group has been very encouraging and Saoirse believes she is not a lone voice in the country, while also stressing that the door is open to everyone who has ideas on how to create positive progressive change.
“We just want to make a small difference,” said Saoirse. “We want people to bring their skills and creativity to the group and I think some of the ideas are already bearing fruit.”
And what are the things that people could be doing to affect change?
“People are always bringing good ideas to the table, “ said Saoirse. “This one gentleman told us that both he and his nine-year-old son are now placing and collecting bin bags on the beach near their home and they’ve been very successful so far.
“They see now that people are both picking bottles from the beach and putting their own bottles into them. They’ve been collecting two full bags a week. That kind of thing is very encouraging and shows you that there are plenty of people out there who do care.”
As well as the educational side of the group, the social aspect is an important factor and friendships have blossomed as a result of attending every fortnight.
“That’s a great side of it of course,” said Saoirse. “You do meet very interesting people. I’ve got to know some of the group very well, including Indre Dambrauskaite (pictured) who attends regularly and helps manage our Facebook page.”
Plastic innovation could well become a larger global movement, but Saoirse is modest about the aspirations of her own group.
“It’s not about creating a movement at all,” said Saoirse. “For me, it’s about doing your bit for the world you live in, educating, not lecturing, and helping change a mind-set that you can’t neglect the environment and leave to others to fix the problems that arise from that neglect.”
The group meet again on November 15th at JT Pim’s, South George Street, at 6 pm until 7.15pm.