Action Days

Cobh Zero Waste has held many action days and outreach events to bring awareness to our group and highlight just some of the solutions to pressing issues such as pollution and climate change. These have included zero-waste workshops, seminars on waste management from experts, our stall at Cobh Farmers’ Market, and a talk from zero-waste expert and influencer Bea Johnson

Last year our volunteers organized a school conference with the Green Schools committees of each of the schools on the island, where each group could showcase their work on sustainability within their school, something we’re hopeful about doing again when public health will allow for it! 

We’ve hosted initiatives such as a repair café and clothes swaps in Cobh, and held community outreach meetings working with SECAD’s “My Town My Plan” scheme, where we’ve invited members of the community to come and share what they’d like to see in a low-waste, sustainable town. Ideas shared included community-supported agriculture, an anaerobic digestor, and the establishment of “walking buses” (supervised walking groups on the way to and from school) for school children. 

One of our primary objectives as a group is to bring awareness to plastic pollution and waste management; we’ve held supermarket action days where we’ve promoted our group and asked people to participate in our action by leaving unnecessary plastic packaging behind them. 

Future Action Days

Going forward (in a post-Covid future!) we hope to massively tackle waste in our town by virtually eliminating single-use plastics. We’ve started by investing in 2000 reusable cups that can be used by local clubs and community groups for large events such as road races where plastic cups have been the go-to. Cobh Tidy Towns will provide large water containers to go with them, and volunteers will distribute and collect them on behalf of the group they have been loaned to. This scheme will be open to any group, as long as the cups are returned clean and dry! 

If you have an idea for an initiative or event you’d like to see in Cobh please don’t hesitate to get in touch; you can email us here! We are always delighted to welcome new members and hear new ideas. 

Tree Planting Action Day in 2019 with Cobh Community Allotments

Síofra Richardson || 13-June-2020


The Great Island Energy Plan

As our way of living here on earth changes our systems need to change alongside them. To be different and better, these new systems need to be inclusive, fair and kinder to the earth. The movement toward these fairer systems is known as a just transition; where everyone no one is left behind. The Great Island Energy Plan is here to help us do just that.

One of the key areas that need to be transformed is our energy system. When we asked the people of Cobh at an outreach event in October 2019 what they wanted to see change drastically on our island this was one of the main discussion topics.

Transforming the energy usage of an island the size of ours with 15,000 people using energy at home, while traveling and at work daily is a huge challenge. But every challenge is an opportunity for growth. With that in mind we are asking ourselves questions like these ones;

How can we make this change where people feel included, informed and supported?

How can we help people save energy at home?

Can we enable people access grant aid to retrofit their homes?

What is the best way to enhance electric car usage and access on the Great Island? 

We have a few ideas and projects in motion which I will tell you about below. However, we know that the best way to make this transition is to hear from you so if you have ideas and solutions please let us know.

Our Energy Plan

Our first port of call is to create an energy-independent community building on the island. This building will be a safe haven and act as an example for people to see an energy-efficient building in the community This will mean installing a renewable energy source, likely solar panels, on the building, educating staff and users on energy saving techniques and doing a deep retrofit to fit it out with insulation and heat pumps. We’re discussing the idea with a few community groups and we have applied for funding with the LEADER program. We expect to see this completed within 3 years.

We are in the process of developing a partnership with the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI). As a Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) we are eligible for funding to create an Energy Master Plan which will act as a road map to transform our community. Our vision is a zero carbon, circular economy on our island where nothing is wasted and renewable energy fuels our way of life.

Since September 2019, members of Cobh Zero Waste have been learning about and developing an Energy Plan for our island with the help of local development agencies like SECAD and the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI). Through a community support program, we have a working plan which we have submitted to Cork County Council to be considered for the county development plan 2022-2028.

Through all of this, we know that supporting one another is the most important part. To facilitate this we will soon be having monthly “Energy & Coffee” morning (Hopefully in person!). Where folks like you and I can meet to hear from experts and chat about our successes, failures, worries and ideas as we switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy on the Great Island. Keep an eye out for updates on this on our social media pages and we’ll see you then!

If you want to be involved in the process on the Energy Plan Committee please get in touch we would love to hear from you.

Working together to make our energy plan a reality

Melanie O’Driscoll || 11-June-2020


Cobh’s Repair Cafe

Cobh Zero Waste held the first Cobh’s Repair Cafe in the Sirius Art Centre on the 23rd November 2019 and it was a great success. Lots of happy people turned up to have their broken and damaged items repaired, some came for some upcycling advice and some just came for a nice chat and a cuppa.

What happens at Cobh’s Repair Cafe.

The range of repair services that was on offer was very impressive. We had;

Tech-savvy people repairing computers and smartphones,
an Electrician fixing broken electrical items.
Carpenters fixing all kinds of furniture.
sewing and clothing experts on hand to fix, patch and seam peoples clothes.
Even a bicycle repair service for those broken chains and wheels.
We also had people repairing broken crockery, vases and knick-knacks. It was a great range of free helpful advice.

“Some people came to have a bicycle fixed and learned how to repair a broken zip on a jacket that was destined for the clothes bank.”

Some people also came for some advice on items they had at home and were unsure about whether they could be repaired or not. People asked about damaged TVs, broken couches and chairs, Ipads and phones, toys and mirrors and all kinds of stuff that may otherwise have ended up in the bin.

Bike Reapirs

Our experts were able to give advice on most of these items on how their lives could be extended with some simple tips.
One of the great things about the repair cafe was the amount of free information and knowledge that was available for everyone to avail of.

Some people came to have a bicycle fixed and learned how to repair a broken zip on a jacket that was destined for the clothes bank. Another person came to ask about repairing an old chair and also learned how to have his old clock fixed. It was great to see so many people coming away with the information they needed to save that broken item they had given up hope on.

The setting in the Sirius Centre was perfect and lent a real sense of community to the event with people popping in and out for help and a chat and even a nice slice of cake and it was great to see so many people using this service. Some people came just for a quick look and ended up staying for an hour watching all the repairers working their magic.

Due to Covid 19, we have been unable to hold another repair cafe as we had planned but with restrictions lifting we here at Cobh Zero Waste will be busy planning our next Repair Cafe as soon as it is safe to do hold one.

So don’t throw away that broken stool, don’t dump that cracked vase and don’t discard that old coat that you love, keep it for Cobh’s Repair Cafe and we will look forward to fixing it for you.

Many thanks go to all the repairers who gave their time, advice and skill for free and to the wonderful people at the Sirius Arts Centre for the use of their space, and to Collette Lewis of the Local Know-How Project.

Keep an eye on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages for Cobh’s newxt Repair Cafe coming to you soon.

Learning how to sew at Cobh’s Repair Cafe

Bearnard O’Dea || 15-June-2020


Cobh Zero Waste Market Stall

The Cobh Zero Waste Market stall, in operation since January 2019, located in Cobh’s lovely promenade is open on the last Friday of every month from 9A.M. to 1 P.M, we are back open since the 12th of June 2020 (Practising social distancing of course!!)

We are currently recruiting for volunteers who would be available Friday Mornings. We are hoping with more volunteers that Cobh Zero Waste market stall can be at the market more frequently during the month.

 Our volunteer slots will be two hours long, Friday morning at 9-11, or 11-1.

 Please contact us via the text box below/ through any of our social media or send us an email, if this is something that you would be interested in. 

 So far, our products available include: 

What To Expect at The Cobh Zero Waste Market Stall.

  • Lilly’s washing up liquid
  • Lilly’s laundry liquid 
  • Lilly’s degreaser
  • Lilly’s toilet cleaner
  • Lilly’s citrus multi surface spray cleaner (all of our Lilly’s products will be sold  @15% of standard retail cost &  we currently sell either a bottle or a refill for all of Lilly’s products)
  • Palm oil free soaps
  • palm oil free deodorant bars
  • palm oil free shaving/body bars
  • palm oil free scrubs (made with organic coconut)
  • Plastic free greeting cards (Beautiful photographs taken by Sally O’ Reilly & packaged in a biodegradable wrap)
  • Washable face masks €10, with proceeds going to Cobh Hospital.

We hope to stock shampoo bars and refills soon, we would love to hear what you would like us to stock, if you have any suggestions please drop them below. 

We are also seeking a more permanent location for refills, so if you have any suggestions regarding that please email us!

Our Market Stall is the best way to chat to us and hear what’s going on!

We are looking forward to seeing you, so don’t be shy!

If you’d like more info about volunteering an occasional Friday morning, click here.

Cobh Zero Waste Market Stall with Ruth, Orsi and Moggy

Dearbhla Richardson || 9-June-2020


18 Zero Waste Hacks For Leaving the House

Leaving the house and remaining zero waste takes a little planning, but probably not as much as you think. Remember, not so long ago we didn’t have to pay for plastic bags; these days bringing your reusables to the supermarket is as second-nature as grabbing your wallet.

Read through our easy hacks that will help you make a big difference when you’re out and about.

Zero Waste Hacks For Leaving the House.

  • Try to stop impulse buying. Before making a purchase ask yourself do you really need this and why am I buying this? Be honest with yourself and NEVER shop when you are hungry! That might help reduce your waist too!
  • Can you walk, cycle or use public transport to get where you’re going rather than driving? Can we make another “reducing your waist” joke?!
  • If you’re planning to get takeaway, ask if there are compostable or recyclable container options. If the answer is no, you’ll at least have raised it with the business. If the answer is yes, shout it from the rooftops so other people can support the business. (This is one of our favourite Zero Waste Hacks For Leaving the House; use social media or word of mouth to tell people every time you encounter a business doing their best).
  • Check out our Zero Waste Shopping in Cobh page to find out what businesses can offer you eco alternatives to everyday items.
  • Keep a shopping bag folded and in your handbag or pocket so you can always refuse a plastic bag at the shop. 
  • Keep a fork and handkerchief in your bag in case you buy food on the go – it saves having to use a plastic one. 
  • Join your local library and start swapping books with your friends.
  • Remember that you don’t need to buy zero waste/plastic-free products to start your journey. Using what you already have is always more sustainable than buying something new. 
  • Share your journey with others – none of us are perfect and we are all in this together. Join the Zero Waste Ireland community on Facebook to get inspired by, and inspire, other people who are discovering clever hacks for reducing their waste. 
  • When heading to a party, wrap gifts in newspapers/magazines, your kids’ artwork (make a big deal of how special this makes it) or even re-usable textiles. Wrapping paper is normally not recyclable and is weirdly expensive. 
  • Keep the ribbons from those luxury boxes of chocolates and reuse them when wrapping gifts.
  • When upgrading your phone make sure to check local charities as many will take your old device and give it to someone in need rather than throwing it out. Those metals are a precious resource!
  • When you do buy things, go for quality. A well-made product will last longer than a cheap one. It may cost more in the short term but will last much longer.
  • One of our favourite zero waste hacks for leaving the house can happen before you even walk out the door. Check classified ads like Gumtree, websites like eBay, and Facebook Marketplace before you make a purchase. You might find what you need secondhand or even nearly-new, often for a much better price too.
  • Rechargeable batteries are great and work out much cheaper in the long run. 
  • Put a “No Junk Mail” sign next to your letterbox so you don’t come home to waste you didn’t choose. Switch to paperless for your bills like electricity and broadband; you might be surprised if you saw how much paper one year of bills uses. All service providers offer this service now and will simply email you your bills. 
  • When giving presents make it yourself or re-gift something you already have. Everyone loves something thoughtfully handmade with love.
  • Before throwing stuff out, put them on a buy and sell sites or offer them free to take away. There is always someone who may find a use for it. The Cobh Freecycling group is ideal for passing things along locally.

We want to hear your zero waste hacks for leaving the house. Join the conversation in the comments below or find us on Facebook.

Want more Zero Waste tips? Check out our room-by-room tips here.


9 Zero Waste Kids Tips

Zero waste kids? Not possible, right? Well, if we remember that Zero Waste is the ideal, we can focus on the small steps that lower waste even in our younglings’ lives. Like all things parenting, it’s about progress, not perfection, amiright?!

Another way to view it is, far from being a tricky task, setting yourself the challenge of zero wasting the kids – or low wasting them – can be pretty easy with the right information and decisions. Kids accumulate throw-away knick-knacks and single-use plastics almost as quickly as they accumulate dirt. The difference is, you’re never going to win the battle against the dirt.

So let’s look at some tips for adding a little zero waste to the kids’ world. Even if you don’t always succeed with the reduction in plastic not-so-fantastic, you’ll still be modelling an important lifestyle choice to one of the most important people on the planet; your child.

Zero Waste Kids Tips.

  • Forgo the plastic-packed party goody-bags in favour of something practical (and very reusable) like a fun pair of socks that they can all wear at school the next day to keep the party going.
  • DIY paper bags decorated by the birthday child is far more personal than a plastic party bag (and might buy you a bit of peace to have a cuppa before the onslaught!).
  • Turn the goody-bag into the entertainment by having a cupcake or cookie decorating competition and let them take some home. 
  • More and more Irish parents are embracing fiver parties, where the guests bring a fiver (instead of a cheapo toy). It reduced waste, clutter, and gives the birthday child something to look forward to when the party ends. And yes, there is a non-cringey way to word it on the invites. 
  • Reusable nappies have come a long way since the towelling and giant safety pin days of our youths. Supermarkets regularly stock stylish and all-in-one nappies that are as easy to use as disposables (but waaaay prettier!). 
  • If cloth nappying is a step too far, try ditching the disposable wipes for reusable ones. They are so much better at doing their dirty job, super easy to make or buy, and far less likely to cause irritation. Oh, and they don’t take 100 years to decompose – yikes!
  • Zero waste for kids doesn’t have to mean burlap sack trousers and darned socks. Buying second hand can also mean buying stylish, even trendy clothes. Have a look on Facebook Marketplace for bundles of clothes that people are selling by age. Or if you need something specific, put a shoutout in the Cobh Freecycling group and give other parents the opportunity to pass along once-loved goodies.
  • Every parent of a toddler is familiar with the one-bite apple, pear, banana etc. Toddler desperately wants a piece of fruit, takes one bite, then plops it down and completely forgets about it. Why not slice up the fruit and pop it into the freezer, ready for a quick smoothie?
  • Try replacing their snacks that are wrapped in single-use plastic with something more sustainable. Freeze leftover smoothies and juices in ice-lolly moulds for a cool treat. Push an ice-lolly stick into a slice of watermelon or make fruit kebabs instead of lollipops. Save any small jars for on-the-go mini-yoghurts decanted from a larger tub. Reusable baby food pouches are a great investment not just for the weaning stage, but when they’re older and want juice from a novelty bottle. 

Want more easy to achieve tips? Check out our ever-expanding Zero Waste at Home Tips here.

P.S. We want to hear your zero waste kids’ tips. Feel free to contact us directly or via Facebook.