Plastic free environmentalist Cornelia Wahli’s Operation de-Plastification continues in Tulla.
The ‘Bin your Bin’ challenge is the latest development in the operation de-Plastification project founded by Cornelia in 2019, building on buoyantly from the original ‘Slim your Bin’ challenge.
A number of shop windows throughout Clare lined with examples of plastic free shopping served as prominent prerequisites for the very first Operation de-Plastification clinic. Two of these shop windows were located on Main Street in Tulla, one at Bia Follain and another at Cooney’s Home and Hardware Shop.
Cornelia is also extremely enthusiastic about an expansion to a shop window at the Farm Shop in Feakle and another at a vacant shop owned by Donnan Meade on Main Street, in Miltown Malbay. Whilst standing outside Cooney’s in Tulla, one woman put the question to Cornelia, “what are you trying to get across with the on-street display?” In response, Cornelia captured the essence of the first Operation de-Plastification clinic, explaining that.
“Some years ago, I had grown tired of bringing my shopping home, pouring my purchases into plastic jars and throwing the packaging into the bin which I then had to pay for when bringing the waste to the Recycling Centre. So, one day, I decided to bring the jars to the shop, to fill the jars in the shop and to leave the packaging in the shop. This way I am no longer amassing waste at my home, post-consumer waste is now pre-consumer waste. This waste is then no longer my burden, it is now the burden of the shop keeper, who has accepted it into his or her shop. I for one, do not want that kind of waste in my house any more, nor do I want to carry the responsibility for that kind of waste”.
For Cornelia, the news in January 2018 arriving from China announcing that the world’s most highly populated country will no longer be taking our recyclable items served as the starting point for a plastic free life. The emphasis from Cornelia lay in refusing and reducing rather than recycling household waste.
Herein lies both the ‘Slim your Bin’ and the newest ‘Bin your Bin’ challenges put forward to the local Clare community. Since the onset of Operation de-Plastification, Cornelia now only produces one wicker basket full of waste of recyclable mixed waste and non-recyclable soft plastic waste per month. When Cornelia shops, she opts for packaging free items or packaging that can be reused, preferably non-plastic based such as glass bottles and glass jars. Glass has a long life span and can be reused again and again.
After mastering the art of pre-cycling and going plastic free with food items, Cornelia decided to move onto non-food items such as washing up liquid, shampoo, washing machine and dishwasher detergent as well as soap, various moisturizers and deodorant. Cornelia no longer has wastebins within the household and points out that the use of a single box for any wayward items usually results in a trip to the recycling centre once or twice each year.
“Looking back over the last 5 years and especially the last year and a half, I cannot believe what I have achieved in my house alone. I am very happy to have taken the bin your bin challenge onboard and am very proud of my achievements to date. Who would have thought that starting at the back, because waste is usually at the back of the agenda, at the back of people’s minds, would actually bring forth very easy and doable solutions to our current predicaments– the Climate Crisis, Biodiversity Crisis, Air-Water-Soil Pollution Crisis and Waste Crisis. Think food security, water security, air security, think, what if…”
Cornelia hopes to continue her local Operation de-Plastification clinic in Tulla, talking about issues around environmental waste. She is also looking to reignite previous Slim your Bin and Bin your Bin surveys. She closes the conversation with the following admonition, “Going public and sharing has taken a lot of courage, but in the end, I think it is worthwhile if other people find going plastic free makes a big difference to them, their families and their immediate environment”.