Restrictions are being eased, vaccines are proving affective and tentitavive plans for social gatherings are starting to be made again. There are plenty of green shoots of optimism that we may be returning to some of pre pandemic activites.
For the Precious Plastic Dublin team this is big news. Meeting in person and taking part in community events has been been a way of helping to spread a message of sustainability and also energising the group through positive social interaction. We though now would be a good time to say how things were going with PPD and who better to talk to than Chris Darling.
Chris has been at the centre of Precious Plastic Dublin for a good few years now and has been instrumental in helping the group make some of it’s biggest steps.
So here is a little Q and A with Chris:
* Remind us about what Precious Plastic Dublin are all about again?
As far as I remember, Precious Plastic Dublin is part of a larger, worldwide movement called Precious Plastic. PP is an education platform through which eco-warriors can learn to take their waste plastic and re-cycle it to make cool new products of their choosing. The platform is mostly aimed at engineers/tool users who can make products out of steel/aluminium or wood, but anyone can do it. The platform aims to divert ‘waste’ plastic from landfill/incineration/general environment.
* For many organisations within communities, activities really slowed if not completely halted during restrictions. Has this been the case with PPD?
Slowed….yes, but not completely halted. During the pandemic the community were continually collecting plastic caps from cleanups and general use and mailing the info@ address to inform of collections. The PPD volunteers continually responded and collected the donated plastic, all of which eventually got stored in a freight container in North Dublin, where it’s waiting to be Preciously sorted and processed. We received a donation of an injection moulder, one of the Precious Plastic apparatus, during the pandemic from a volunteer who works with Grown clothing. We also received a donation of an industrial shredder and 3d filament maker from a lecturer in UCD, so we have alot of tools at our disposal now.
* The first Precious Plastic Premises in Ireland sounds like a big breakthrough! What will this enable the group to do?
Initially it will enable us to gather at the location as a group, sort the plastic and process it. By this I mean we can sorted it into HDPE/PP and other plastics, shred it, and re-cast it into new functional products. As far as im aware, only one of the volunteers has been able to test shredding and re-casting the plastic into a mould, so having the larger group learn how to do this will be a big step and learning. Once we’ve made some products, we can show the PPD (and wider) community and donators that the ball is starting to roll again after 2 years on hold. Everyone has been collecting plastic but no results have been shown, so this should provide a great catalyst for more collections/machine making and plastic re-use.
* Why is Ballymun Youthreach a good collaboration for Precious Plastic Dublin?
The Ballymun Youth centre is a place where people aged 15-18 or so come to learn new skills, specifically wood working and recently 3d printing. These motivated learners may otherwise be on the streets of Ballymun not learning such valuable skills. Ballymun as an area has less than 5 star reputation, but this is changing with the regeneration projects and new retail outlets placed there. The fact that the Ballymun Youth Reach, which is part of a wider Dublin city Youth Reach program, is making this project happen shows that anyone can do this and anyone should! If one was to choose a better location for the project, somewhere in the city centre would be better, but such projects have to start somewhere and who knows, maybe such a container will pop up in the middle of the city in years to come!
* How has lockdown been for you personally?
Good question! If I was to do it all again, so to speak, I would have fled to the West coast where restrictions werent quite as enforced!(only joking). Being quite the entrepreneurial adventurer with lots of projects in different areas on the go, lockdown was not fun. But was it in any way enjoyable for anyone? I have very fortunate circumstances in that I was able to continue with my self-employment. Lockdown has taught me alot about the world and the phrase ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’. I took advantage of restrictions and did alot of reading, never thought Id be interested in psychology, now it’s fascinating!
* During such a difficult period, what seeds of hope have you found?
Hope lies everywhere, if you talk to the right people! The saying ‘this too shall pass’, which is an expression about depression (i think?) was very relevant to the situation. If we can get through a worldwide pandemic, and able to talk together and work together on a common goal (sustainability and mental health), we can make a very positive change. Personally I found podcasts/my workshop (aka my mindfulness/meditation)/walking in nature and chatting to family and friends are seriously useful tools for enjoying life. And watersports!
* What are your short to medium-term plans for PPD as we advance with caution towards hopefully something approaching normality?
In the short-term, get the freight container up and running with access for volunteers so we can start and continue processing the already collected plastic. In parallel, go to schools with the machines to show the kids how much fun it is to make whatever you can think of. In the medium/long term, someone posed the idea of having such a container in every county in Ireland, 2 in larger cities. That would be amazing. We’d also like to start making PET plastic into geometric domes, that would be great too. Personally, it’d be amazing to have a park bench made out of Precious Plastic. One step at a time though!
* And beyond that?
Effect policy change on the manufacture of plastic so that’s its very readily recyclable and/or compostable. Honestly I don’t see plastic ever not being produced, but it can be re-used and not discarded into the environment.
* Leave us with some final words…
We can do this, where there’s a will there’s a way.