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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Households in Co Antrim urged to make plastic promise this Christmas

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollution Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. 

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollution Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. 


With the festive season underway Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s civic-pride initiative, Live Here Love Here, is calling on 1000 households in County Alntrim to take its Plastic Promise.

Launched four years ago, the Plastic Promise helps people better understand plastic misuse and has seen individuals, schools, businesses, and community groups in Ballymena and across County Antrim pledge to reduce and remove single-use plastic from their everyday lives.

The charity’s call highlights that many plastics associated with the festive period are used only once before they’re carelessly disposed of - wrapping paper, glitter, decorations, partyware and food items. 

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollution Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, reminds people of the damage single use plastics can cause. He says:

“Plastic pollution is a problem all year round but our consumption of single-use plastics spikes at Christmas. Designed to be used just once and then thrown away, single-use plastics are in our lives for a very short period but can take hundreds of years to degrade. In that time, they cause significant damage polluting our environment and harming wildlife. 

“During Christmas festivities it can be difficult to avoid all plastics, but we would ask people to be more mindful and adopt the refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle mantra when shopping and gifting.” 

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollution Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. 

Chris suggests alternatives starting with bringing our own shopping bags when hitting the high street and investing in a reusable cup to avoid drinks packaging when enjoying our festive drinks. He also says that whilst gift wrapping may be tempting, much of it is not recyclable yet purchased in abundance. He explains:

“Glittery and shiny wrapping paper, ribbons and name tags all look great, but they almost always include a plastic film that’s not recyclable. It ends up decomposing at landfill releasing toxic substances into the soil and water which humans and animals then absorb.

"Brown paper or newspaper is a great alternative and can be nicely decorated with fabric strips and string.

If you do receive a gift that’s in a gift box, bag or wrapped in the shiny paper this Christmas, try holding on to it and reusing it next year instead of throwing in the bin. In fact, you can use Christmas cards and wrapping paper for DIY decorations which along with being environmentally friendly, are financially savvy too.” 

Chris also reminds us that it’s not just about what the gifts are wrapped in, but the gifts we give too, and recommends gifting items that will be loved forever or purchasing experiences such as gigs, restaurant vouchers, subscriptions, and the like. Similarly, he also reminds us that when it comes to our food indulgences throughout the festivities, we can be more mindful of the packaging we choose to buy. 

Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, highlights that Christmas is a time to be reflective and make positive changes for the future. He said:

“The reality is we are in a climate emergency, and we all need to play our part by adopting a sustainable approach. My hope for 2024 is that households make greater commitments to the circular economy – a concept that prioritises sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing to help produce less waste.

"Northern Ireland ranks 12th in the world for biodiversity loss, and with more than four million items of single-use plastics dumped here each week, it’s crucial that we change, starting with taking the Plastic Promise this Christmas” 

For more advice on reducing your plastic footprint this Christmas, and to commit to Live Here Love Here’s Plastic Promise, visit:


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