Where Finbarr taught, let Munster learn... to operate without plastic.
University College Cork’s decision to stop using all single-use plastic in its operations in campus dining, shops, and vending machines from January 2, 2023, is a welcome move.
At a time when awareness of environmental challenges and impacts is at an all-time high, the decision to turn “plastic-free” will have impressive results when filtered through the experience of a student spending four years at the college.
UCC estimates that the move will save 560,000 plastic bottles and 1.4m coffee cups during those four years — a yearly saving in the university of 140,000 plastic bottles and 370,000 coffee cups in total.
The decision is also an implicit acknowledgement that young people now audit institutions of all kinds for their environmental credentials, and are not afraid to hold those institutions to account if they see shortcomings.
By being proactive in this area, UCC is therefore reflecting the concerns of the younger cohort of Irish citizens but — more importantly — it is showing the way for other organisations, and not just in the education sector.
If a body as large as UCC, with well over 20,000 students and staff on its books, can provide leadership in this area, surely other organisations can follow that lead.
Committing an entire university to such a sweeping change is not easy, but UCC has done so.
Teaching is sometimes simply a matter of giving a good example.