Zero Waste Europe is happy to introduce the blog series “Meet our members”. Through this series of monthly interviews, we want to give you a chance to get to know our members and the work they are doing.
Meet Mindy O’Brien from VOICE Ireland, Ireland
Hi Mindy, can you give us a brief introduction to VOICE’s focus?
VOICE was established in 1997 and was the successor to Greenpeace Ireland after Greenpeace decided to withdraw from Ireland. We have worked on many different issues over the years, including water, forestry, GMOs and climate change, but of late, focus primarily on waste prevention and the circular economy. We have been a member of EEB for 15 years, Zero Waste Europe for over three years and a member of Break Free From Plastic for over two years.
How long have you been in the field and what got you into (zero) waste?
I have been working in the environmental sector since I graduated from law school with an environmental certificate in 1993 in the US. From 1993-1996, I was the legislative director for a Member of Congress, specialising in waste and water legislation as well as overseeing a team of five legislative assistants. Since moving to Ireland, I have worked on promoting progressive legislation on waste and water issues and engage with communities to affect positive behaviour change.
Empowering positive action for conservation of our natural resources.
What is your current role in the organisation?
I am the Coordinator of VOICE Ireland, I manage a team of 8 people.
Tell us more about one ongoing campaign/activity you’re working on?
1 – Sick of Plastic: under this campaign we are
- pushing for aggressive and ambitious transposition of the Single-Use Plastic Directive, Plastic Strategy and Circular Economy Action Plan.
- Looking for the establishment of a DRS for drinks containers
- Demanding change from our supermarkets. We hope to launch a postcard campaign which sets out six demands for Supermarkets to reduce the amount of plastic packaging, which include the following:
- Price loose items competitively vs packaged items
- Lead the way by making your own brand packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable
- Ensure your suppliers use less plastic
- Allow us to use our own containers
- Supply dry goods and cleaning products in bulk to reduce packaging
- Eliminate plastic bags for loose produce and bread.
2 – We have sick of plastic groups around the country that organise ‘shop and drop’ actions, leaving behind unwanted plastic packaging
3 – Conscious Cup, ReCircle Containers and Conscious Communities
Through these various campaigns, we are urging the use and acceptance of reusable coffee cups and containers. Our community work activates local champions to take on ‘conscious’ actions within their towns to reduce excessive consumption and waste.
If there was one thing that you would like your organisation to be known for, what would it be?
Being the impetus for systematic change in the way we consume and change public consumer demands, looking to buy the product, not the packaging.
How would you describe the growth of the zero waste movement in your country? What is your perspective for the future?
We established the first zero waste community in Cashel, Co. Tipperary. In 2016. However, we think that we were ahead of our time and the time was not ripe for this approach. However, the zero waste community is growing with the Zero Waste Ireland Facebook page with nearly 15,000 followers and towns looking for help in their journey towards zero waste. I think now is the time to invest more time and resources in developing the local zero waste structure.
You can find more about VOICE, and their work here.