The Green Party candidate for Galway West/Mayo South in the next General Election has praised all who are taking part in this week’s Plastic Free Initiative in the city but has asked the City Council to lead the way by banning plastic bottles being used at Council meetings.
Pauline O’Reilly said that all concerned should be congratulated for their efforts.
“The first thing that we should do is celebrate! Schools, community groups, and businesses across the city and county have been really pulling out all the stops for a week without plastic bags, disposable bottles, straws and cutlery. As a new Green voice for Galway I’m proud of our county,” she said.
“Businesses have also been getting behind the choices we make for some time. The ReCupán community group helps promote businesses offering a reduction to customers who bring their own reusable cups. I’m delighted to say that so far, more than 50 cafes and restaurants around the city and county have taken this up.
Several businesses with an eye on the new economy are also now offering compostable coffee cups and paper straws.
“With Plastic Free Week coming to a close however, the evidence of plastic waste that remains in many neighbourhoods around our county becomes all the more visible.
“I’ve been working with local community groups like ‘Clean up Galway’ and residents’ associations in estates such as Droim Chaoin to clean up after fly-tipping. The activists ‘Friends of Merlin Woods’ and ‘Conservation Volunteers Galway’ do great work both educationally and practically as they organise regular litter picking around the coast and in our woods.
“It is time now for the Council to really put money behind these communities, starting by installing CCTV to discourage fly-tipping. Enforcing anti-fly-tipping legislation will also help – this has already been done in other parts of the country with good results.
“I genuinely welcomed the announcement that Galway is set to become a plastic free city and the work that went into making this week a success. Like many people I got involved myself with enthusiasm, but there is only so much that ordinary people can do. It is now past time for our Council to lead by example.
“Attending the Galway City Council meeting last month amid plans for Plastic Free Week, I was hopeful that I would see councillors making real moves to realise the ambition announced last year. Sadly, the most obvious thing I saw was plastic bottles spread out before the Councillors present.
“We can see that the community is behind reducing waste. A few small steps within the Council would show that Council really means business and push this project to the next stage. I am committed to holding our Council to account when it comes to ‘walking the talk’ on plastic waste reduction.
“Here are a few recommendations which have been successful in other parts of the country and across the globe. They are simple, quick, and could be implemented immediately:
1. Use glass not plastic Within Council chambers switching to glass jugs and glasses
2. Encourage non-disposable coffee cups Non-compostable cups have been banned in Cork City Council. We can do the same here.
3. Walking or cycling Councillors should consider walking or cycling first,” she said.