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Posted on Jan 19, 2017 in Blog, Food Waste, General News, Repair, Waste

VOICE Coordinator speaks to NearFM – listen back here!

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Mindy O’Brien, coordinator of VOICE, spoke to Noel McGuinness of NearFM on January 13th about waste prevention in 2017. Asumptions about cost, excessive bureaucracy, convenience, practicality…all are delved into in this interview which explores food waste packaging, the repair industry, and the use of reuseable coffee cups!

Contrary to Noel’s assumption, food waste packaging is actually disimproving as we are now seeing “bananas, avocados and oranges in plastic”. Fruits with such think skins surely don’t require an extra layer of plastic, a plastic that is in fact very difficult to recycle. What’s more, the packaging may encourage us to buy more than we need, causing us to waste food a few days later – not what we need when we know we Irish are throwing out 25% of our fruit and veg.

However, many people out there assume that packaged food is generally cheaper. In fact, the opposite is more often than not true; it is often cheaper to buy unpackaged! Mindy’s example of packaged cheese costing 50 cent more per kilo than the smaller, unpackaged amount would really make one think. What’s the lesson in this anecdote? Check what’s cheaper – don’t assume buying food pre-packaged will save you money.

2017 will hopefully see a surge in the repair industry in Ireland. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) take broken electrical items, but will not repair them. However, Repaircafe will. This is a free service where for one day, a group of volunteers come together to repair things for free. Ireland had its very own Repair Cafe until “prohibitively expensive insurance” and liability issues unfortunately forced it to close. This is an example of bureaucracy putting a spanner in the cogs of transition – however luckily a new endeavour has sprung up in Ireland! Put a note in your diary for March 11th 2017 – when Fixjam will come to Jigsaw, Dublin. The repair industry exists, and if it’s going to grow, we need to use it.

Finally we got to the issue that is sending 650 million cups to landfill a year, and that’s just in Ireland. Yes, you guessed it – the scourge of non-recyclable coffee cups. A budding campaign is beginning in Ireland, the Conscious Cup Campaign. This group of individuals that met on the Zero Waste Facebook page are taking on the industry, by urging cafés and shops to accept reuseable cups and offer a discount to those who use them. A simple tweak, but one made all the more difficult to implemen,t as the problem is in part down to the coffee suppliers who often supply free cups with the coffee. The question is – will cafés take a hit to the wallet if they can provide a social and environmental benefit? We hope so, but only time will tell.

So what can you do today to begin the change and spread the trends that will only grow in the future?

  1. Why not invest in a practical Stojo? While you’re at it, plant the idea of getting a discount for using your own cup in your local café? The more the idea is normalised, the more palatable it will become for the industry. Let us know how you get on!
  2. Leave the plastic in the supermarket and opt for unpackaged – your bank account will thank you.
  3. Check out Fixjam on March 11th!