Let’s turn the Earth green this St Patrick’s Day

No matter how Irish you are, or how far from Ireland you live, get your Guinness at the ready, as St Patrick’s Day is upon us on 17th March.

But is our much-loved Irish holiday causing an environmental hangover and leaving you with a banging headache and a mountain of waste to deal with on the 18th?

Waste collection experts Divert.co.uk aren’t happy about the heap of rubbish we leave behind every year as we celebrate the feast day of Ireland’s patron saint, with bins overflowing with empty tins and single-use fancy dress items clogging up our landfill sites.

Divert.co.uk waste expert Mark Hall says: “Everyone and anyone will suddenly claim to be of Irish descent and want to join in on the shindigs – but is all the rubbish worth it just to celebrate one day of the year?

“Maybe the best way to turn the town green this year is to go for the greener and more sustainable options by choosing to reuse and recycle during these festivities.”

Pints of pointless garbage
Over the years, St Patrick’s Day has become a commercial success with dressing up and drinking at the forefront as we celebrate Irish heritage.

Hazel from Dorchester says: “I’m a quarter Irish but it’s all the excuse I need to go to town every year, neck a few pints of Guinness, and pester the DJ all night to play a bit of B*Witched”.

Partiers certainly love a pint of Guinness to celebrate the beloved patron saint of Ireland, with over 13 million pints of the Irish stout being consumed on March 17th – enough to fill three Olympic sized swimming pools.

Aside from tins, a lot of this will come in plastic cups and bottles with approximately over 13,500 tonnes being disposed of during the festivities. And for those who like a cheeky cigarette when they drink, over one billion butts are reportedly thrown on the ground, instead of disposed of in bins. 

Dublin City Council conducts a colossal clean up mission, costing a small fortune to hire staff to collect over 20 tonnes of rubbish in the heart of the city during the course of the day. In other words, a lot of stuff gets littered unnecessarily.

Mark adds: “If you’re going to get the tins in this St Patrick’s Day, don’t forget to put the empties in your kerbside recycling bin for collection – and the same goes for your glass and plastic bottles too. Make sure you’re disposing of your rubbish correctly and it’s not thrown haphazardly on the ground.”

Green is the new black
Dressing head-to-toe in green attire has become part of the festivities on St Patrick’s Day, with 80% of those celebrating planning to don the colour for the occasion.

This year, consumers are set to spend more than ever before for the big day, including on their fancy dress. Britons spend around £2.7 billion on single use outfits a year, including fast-fashion fancy dress items for St Patrick’s Day such as giant green hats, fake leprechaun beards, wigs, and deely-bopper headbands.

But the problem is that most of these items will only be used once before being chucked in the bin.

Mark says: “A lot of fancy dress costumes are made from polyester, which is cheap to make but a nightmare to recycle as they are made using oil and mixed in with other materials. This means if you throw them away, they can be sat rotting in a landfill for decades.

“Why not keep it simple with a classic green novelty shirt that you bring out every March, or just a few accessories such as a silly hat or bowtie that you store away until the following year.”

There are also plenty of great fancy dress shops up and down the country that you can hire outfits from if you’re looking to switch up your St Paddy’s style every year. And at the very least, if you’re finished with an item you can always donate it to charity instead of lobbing it in the bin.

So this year, maybe instead of focusing all the attention on the Chicago River being dyed green (they use 23kg of dye, fact fans), we should think about how our actions on this merry occasion can leave a lasting green impact on our planet.

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