Hundreds of University College Cork students signed a Waste Reduction Bill to mark the national Sick of Plastic Day of Action on campus last Friday.
UCC Green Campus teamed up with the campus’s Boole Library staff to organise the bill-signing event ahead of the ‘shop and drop’ Plastic Day of Action to raise awareness about the campaign among students.
The so-called Sick of Plastic Campaign was launched by Friends of the Earth and VOICE with ‘shop and drop’ as their motto.
The environmental groups called on the members of the public to join them in taking excess plastic packaging off items at the checkout during their usual supermarket trip on Saturday and to leave it with the cashier.
Irish supermarkets have been under fire over ‘unnecessary use of plastic packaging’ on fresh products – an issue they have promised to address. Marks and Spencer has pledged to use recyclable plastic for packaging all its products by 2020, while Aldi has committed to cutting plastic packaging in half by 2025.
“There are lots of things shops can do to reduce plastic packaging, and we’re hoping people will use this Day of Action to show supermarkets that we want them to act,” said Oisin Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth.
UCC Green Campus is a pilot programme launched in 2007 to supervise the college’s transformation to a world-class sustainable campus. UCC became the first third-level education organisation in the world to receive a Green Flag from the Foundation of Environmental Education in 2010.
Volunteers at UCC Green Campus had decorated the campus with plastic bottles, and William Ruane an artist and staff member at UCC’s Boole Library erected a waterfall made entirely out of used plastic bottles inside the college’s library.
Students and staff of UCC spoke to Green News about plastic pollution after signing the bill:
“The idea for Sick of Plastic Campaign is to show support to Friends of the Earth campaign and try to draw as much attention to the issue as possible and get as many students as we can to be involved in the campaign,” said Killian Kelly of UCC Green Campus Programme.
“I always notice that there are a lot of unnecessary plastic packaging with fruits and other products. You can do away with a lot of plastic, and I signed the bill because this is a really good way to raise awareness about the unnecessary use of plastic,” said Sophia Elisseeva, a 23-year-old researcher at UCC’s Microbiome Institute.
“I think it is a really good cause, the build-up of plastic in the world is getting ridiculous. You see pictures of washed-up whales full of plastic, it is awful,” said Sarah Lumbroso, a 24-year-old Dentistry student.
“I think plastic is very harmful to the environment and we use it far too much, you need a certain amount of responsibility to dispose of it correctly and hopefully eliminate its use,” said Garrett Tobin, a 29-year-old Philosophy student.