Off to Dublin in the Green in the Green: Living sustainably

Off to Dublin in the Green in the Green: living sustainably– by Ciarán Cuffe to Irish Independent 24th June 2002

The green flag was raised at Scoil Neasáin in Artane yesterday. It wasn’t an outburst of patriotism, however, but an expression of the school’s commitment to the environment. The Green Schools scheme is organised with An Taisce, and schools make sure that their students are doing all they can to recycle their paper, cut down on waste and help clean up the environment. This is a practical expression of the interest that Dubliners and their children have in adopting a green lifestyle. It’s no longer a case of brown rice and sandals. These days being green means walking or taking the bus to work, recycling your waste and choosing products that are friendly to environment.

Taking care of your surroundings yields results. Already Dubliners are benefiting from a new sewage plant in Ringsend that is making Dublin Bay cleaner and less polluted. By the end of the summer it should be possible to take a dip in the Bay without encountering unmentionables beneath the surface. This is part of the Dublin Bay Project, a massive undertaking by the Dublin Local Authorities that will transform Dublin Bay into a sparkling amenity for us all. It’s costing us hundreds of millions of Euro but it is an investment in our children’s future.

Wondering about the road works that are taking place all around the city? Well, a lot of the work is due to the construction of the Luas light rail system. When this is finished it will give us a modern tram system that will whisk people from Tallaght to the City Centre and from Stephen’s Green to Dundrum. It’s only a beginning but it will give some people a reliable and clean alternative to sitting in traffic for hours on end. Of course those of us in the Green Party would say we were calling for this years ago, but thankfully there has been some adoption of green policies by the major political parties. Already the Quality Bus Corridors are showing that modern buses can be a reliable and green alternative to the car. Hats off to Dublin Bus who took tens of thousand of people to and from the Phoenix Park last week for the Irish team’s homecoming. If people had taken the car the traffic would have been horrendous.

Using public transport is one way of being green. However we can begin to take care of the environment at home. The plastic bag levy has been a great success. It goes to show that adopting green policies needn’t cost the earth, and can yield instant results. While it may have caused us some annoyance at the outset, by now most people have got used to carrying around a re-useable green bag for their shopping, or leaving one hanging on the back of the front door.

Green bins are being adopted enthusiastically by many of us. It’s important that all households around the city are given the choice of recycling at their doorstep. Only one sixth of Dún Laoghaire residents have been offered a green wheelie bin so far, but there are plans to extend the scheme by the end of the year, and I’m pushing hard to make sure this happens. It’s a real challenge though to ensure that we find uses for the recycled material. We should really have a national agency that would be in charge of making sure that we make good use of what we’re collecting.

The closure of Ardagh Glass in Ringsend shows that we need more effort from Government to make recycling happen. Perhaps a new semi-state agency is required to put pressure on industry to reduce and re-use their waste. New laws are required to make sure that all of us take our environmental responsibilities seriously. After all the re-useable glass milk bottle disappeared only a few years ago without the Department of the Environment taking any steps to prevent its extinction. None of us want to see new superdumps, but unless we reduce the amount of waste being created this will happen. There are also plans to build an incinerator in Ringsend. If we don’t want to this to built we all have to make a commitment to cut down the amount of waste that we are creating in the first place.

One of the great places to find out more about caring for the environment is the Enfo office on St Andrews Street, just beside the Dublin Tourism office. It hosts great exhibitions and has lots of practical tips for adopting a green lifestyle. Their website has tips for a better environment, and they have lots of ideas for how we can think globally, act locally and make Dublin a cleaner greener city. ENDS

Irish Independent 24th June 2002, this page published 10th January 2018