Touring about west Clare County, the natural beauty is
astounding. The air quality is
superb. The ocean is pure. The countryside is blooming. If it were any lovelier, I think we would
both explode. As is, we are reaching our
limit of loveliness. "There is only so
much beauty you can handle in two days," my travel partner despairs.
What is the secret behind Ireland staying so fit, in this
ghastly day and age? Global warming is
pronounced unstoppable. China's air
pollution levels are predicted to outdo the US's soon. Deforestation and dead oceans running rampant
... how does Ireland escape global doomsday?
To find the answers, we head to the local landfill outside of Ennis.
The facilities manager gives us a quick tour. The landfill has been in operation since
2002. It is filled up in sections. Phase one has been capped, sealed, and kissed
goodnight. Phase two is nearly full, and
they have begun digging the huge hole for phase three. At these rates, they will need a new landfill
We inspect the recycling portion to find some signs of
hope. It is drive up recycling for the
public, where they can unload household recyclables into huge bins. As of 2000, Ireland recycled 13% of its
waste, and the remaining 87% went into landfills. This figure is changing. The strongest
incentive now for consumers to recycle is economic. They are charged more for disposal of waste
that will go into the landfill, but it is free to recycle other household
Cutting down on total waste starts with what you buy. Tourists can help by buying items with less
or no packaging. Buy fresh, local items
that do not need packaging. Many towns
and villages have Saturday farmers' markets.
We hit these, and bring own bags when shopping.
You can also reuse items along the way. Be creative.
Reuse bags. Use an empty paper
bag as a plate. Keep one small water
bottle with you, and refill it from a larger source. Tap water is still drinkable in Ireland. Bring what you can from home to eliminate
Recycle everywhere you travel. Many accommodations offer in-house bins for
glass bottles, aluminum, and organic waste.
If going by car, look for the public recycling bins in each town; they
are most often located in public areas such as parking lots. Plastic recycling bins are rarer, so save
your plastic until you find one. Collect
all your recyclable items and sort them into the bins. The bins are picked up and brought to the
nearest waste management facility where they are handed off to outside
recycling contractors, such as Clean Ireland Recycling.
You have choice of how to dispose of your waste wherever you
go. Help keep Ireland green by being an
Written by Liz O' Malley - Summer of Travel 2007