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GAA club joins environmental charity to give plastic the red card

Environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is reaching out to the sporting community across Northern Ireland to tackle pointless plastic.

Sports clubs are being encouraged to complete the ‘Tackling Plastic Organisation Toolkit’ – a five-step guide that can help organisations to navigate reducing their use of plastic.

Steps are designed to showcase organisations’ efforts by creating a straightforward action plan, saving them money and helping to limit the amount of plastic entering the environment.

Organisations that complete the toolkit receive an official certificate and sticker to promote themselves as a ‘Tackling Plastic Organisation,’ and are also included on the new Live Here Love Here app, which demonstrates their commitment to helping the environment.

Páirc na bPiarsach Óg is one club that has recently completed the toolkit.

The County Armagh Gaelic Athletic Club made sustainable strides during the Covid-19 pandemic by installing a water fountain in the clubhouse.

NI Water is working in partnership with the club by gifting players with reusable bottles to encourage the use of these over pointless single-use bottles.

Adrian Clarke, club vice president, said: “Initially we got involved with the Tackling Plastic Toolkit as we wanted to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bottles left behind in the club grounds after training.

“This has developed into a deeper understanding about how we all need to do our part to tackle the plastic pollution problem.

“It’s vital for the wellbeing of future generations that we do our bit now to protect the planet.”

Pat McCauley, Education Officer at NI Water, said: “NI Water has a strong focus on the environment, and we are committed to tackling the problems caused by plastic bottles which block up our rivers and drains and pollute our seas.

“By switching to a reusable bottle, people can help turn the tide in helping to reduce plastic waste. Our drinking water is 99 per cent pure and we want everyone to benefit from it.”

“The Live Here Love Here team behind the programme believe that the Tackling Plastic Organisation Toolkit can prepare sports clubs for a more sustainable future.”

Claire Leonard, Tackling Plastics Communications Officer at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “Since we issued the Litter Composition Report in March 2019 we have had an influx of local organisations seeking advice on changes they can make to join the effort to tackle plastic.

“In response we created this toolkit. It gives organisations the tools they need to understand how they can make changes for the better as a member of our community.”

Claire continues: “The templates provided help organisations audit their current situation and highlight where change is needed – it then rewards those efforts, helping to promote that they are joining this fight and evoking change.

“It is our vision that every business and organisation in Northern Ireland will download this toolkit and, even in the smallest way, strive to eradicate pointless plastic.”

Many of the litter items identified in a recent Litter Composition Report 2019-20, commissioned by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, were linked to the food industry, such as single-use plastic bottles, takeaway cups and confectionary wrappers.

There are up to 1.3 million littered items on Northern Ireland’s streets at any one time, with 71 per cent containing plastic.

The toolkit also has information on current EU Directives, along with examples of how to streamline businesses’ use of plastic. It also explains how to create an environmental policy.

n If you’re involved in the sporting community and want your community to get involved in tackling pointless plastic, contact Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful at enquiries@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org

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