Colm O'Regan shares his therapy against the relentless bad eco-news
There are some injuries that are very much of their time. It is unlikely that many of us will get Chimney-Sweeps Elbow or Spit-Boy’s Fat-Burn. Similarly, there are injuries that could only occur now.
The spraining of a finger of a Data Analyst as they collide with a trainee accountant at tag-rugby, scrolling-induced repetitive strain injury, electric-scooter knee; none of these would have happened in the days of short trousers and regular beatings.
I’m going to stick my neck out – another potential source of injury, Hot Take Neck – and say that the most modern injury will shortly be Eco-brick Thumb. It’s the thumb sprain you get when trying to cram stuff into an eco-brick in order to achiever the correct level of ‘fillage’.
An eco-brick is a used two-litre plastic bottle filled with the kind of plastic and clean non-recyclables that can be used to make ‘stuff’.
Some places like the Seal Sanctuary make furniture out of them. In other countries they make houses out of them. I’ve started filling them.
On a practical level reduces the amount of plastic going to landfill. And it’s making me a bit more aware of the amount of packaging that previously I barely handled before dumping. I have a dream that others will join me and we’ll do an eco-brick tapestry about love and hugs.
But mainly it’s a psychological thing. It feels like a thing I can do. It’s sort of my therapy against the relentless bad eco-news. I tend to do a bit of filling after hearing news about the latest ecological crime.
Did you know that olive-farming kills millions of birds. Big-scale olive farming, not the gnarled smiling old man you met on your Cyprus holiday once who showed you, through his simple life, what’s really important.
In Big Olive they harvest the olives with giant hoovers at night and in doing so hoover up roosting birds. Like, HOOVERING UP THE BIRDS. FOR FFFFFFSSSSAKE! WHAT ARE WE LIKE?
I also recently found out that bags for life are terrible if you don’t reuse them. You know those cute cotton tote bags that say things like “Hey I like books and I’m quirky and have kefir growing in my fridge LOL.”
You have to use them thousands of times in order to be not worse for the planet, in terms of energy, than a classic Spar bag.
The paper bags you get in the shops now? Single use. The ink to make the big logo on them, the water to make the paper? More damaging than original plastic bags.
The plastic bag thing killed me. I really thought we were doing good getting rid of the skinny plastic bags. But of course we just supported another packaging industry instead.
What you’re supposed to do is reuse classic plastic bags. That’s what your mam was trying to do when she had an entire extension full of them.
But when she went to the shop they just doled out more for free. So get one good Aldi/Lidl bag and re-use it with feckless abandon. OWN IT. Waltz into Brown Thomas and buy an expensive ‘statement piece’ and say: “Can you just horse it in there?”
It really is the hope that kills you. But the eco-brick is my crutch against despair. It’s the tiny step to then do other stuff that makes all the difference like eating less meat, not flying as much, not voting for people who do nothing about climate change, punching anyone who hurts a pollinator
Now if I hear that eco-bricks are actually terrible for the environment because eventually they’ll all go to landfill and they’re a fire hazard and they kill curlews … I’ll .. I’ll go spare.
Or I’ll try something else. Despair isn’t really an option at this stage.