Updated: 04/05/18 : 07:41:43
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Successful Sligo 'Shop and Drop' campaign

Saturday, 21 April, was the first national Day of Action on Supermarket Packaging and ‘Shop and Drop’ events occurred at supermarkets throughout Ireland to draw shoppers’ attention to the problem of plastic packaging waste and how it is harming our environment.  

Part of the Sick of Plastic campaign (www.foe.ie/sickofplastic), an initiative of environmental organisations Friends of the Earth and VOICE Ireland, the day consisted of ‘Shop and Drop’ events where shoppers were encouraged to remove excess plastic packaging when doing their weekly shop, and leaving this plastic waste with retailers.  

In Sligo, more than 30 volunteers including school students, Tidy Towns members, and individuals took part in local events organised for 12 supermarkets in five communities: Ballisodare, Tubbercurry, Enniscrone, Collooney, and Sligo town.  

Local organisers reported the response to the Day of Action was overwhelmingly positive with large numbers of people engaging with the initiative and signing their names to a petition calling for a reduction in plastic packaging.  

Retailers also joined in supporting events by engaging with local volunteers and providing collection points for collected plastic waste.  Some have since promised to provide such facilities on an ongoing basis to meet customer demand and to taking further steps to provide for packaging-free purchasing.

Everyday in Ireland, we generate more than 2 million plastic bottles that are not recycled, and 500,000 plastic-lined coffee cups that cannot be recycled, in addition to ever-increasing amounts of unnecessary and unwanted supermarket packaging.  

The Sick of Plastic campaign has written to the large supermarket chains asking them to change behaviours by offering more items without packaging such as fruit and vegetables, providing compostable or recyclable packaging where it is required, using their purchasing power to demand that other brands do the same, implementing plastic free aisles, allowing more opportunities for bulk purchasing, and allowing shoppers to use their own containers to buy dried goods, thus buying only the quantities they require.

             Campaigners getting the message out at Sligo's Lidl branch. Photo: Twitter

Miranda O’Donnell, one of the principal ‘Shop and Drop’ organisers locally, stated “we were absolutely delighted with how both supermarket management and members of the public responded to our events, and to the number of volunteers who helped make it such a success across the county.  

"We literally had people lining up to sign our petition because they felt so strongly about this issue.  Hopefully, having identified a significant level of public demand for change, we will now see this occur at national as well as local level.”

Other local ‘Shop and Drop’ organisers included Drumcliffe-Rathcormac, Collooney, Sligo, and Tubbercurry Tidy Towns’ Committees, and Margaret Kenny in Enniscrone.