Big thank you from

Undesirable footprints being left in the sands of time 

The Rambler 12/01/2001

A LONG time ago, Longfellow wrote the memorable lines - Lives of great men all remind us/We can make our lives sublime/And departing leave behind us/Footprints in the sands of time"

With collection of domestic refuse disruption by the Christmas holidays and the snowstorm, we all experienced inconvenience in coping with the seasonal flood of discarded packaging, much of it indestructible and destined for the local landfill, there to poison another earth.

Cosmetic, bulky wrappers, mostly of no earthly use to the consumer, with many of the containers blown up and only partially full - "buy one and get
one free, 25% extra' etc. -

Every imaginable colour and shape is used to catch the customer's eye.

Whoever asked for these bubble packs and oversized packages?


How gullible have we become, mindless of the manner in which we are being lulled into complacently accepting the reckless poisoning of the environment.

Are these me footprints which we are content to leave behind us in the sands of time?

Our ancestors who escaped this application of the wealthy and modern affluent way of life, gave back to the soil all, or virtually all, that the soil gave them.

With neither chemicals nor technology to aid them, they wrested produce, and a living, from the earth and ploughed back enough to sustain growth.

In a word, they poisoned none.

They were not faced with the flood of indestructible plastic etc, which might be termed the excrement of our affluent way of life.

The traditional methods of farming would be scorned by the present generation of computerised 'armchair' ranch owners but the old people left no dirty footprints.


Animal excrement and well rated compost were sensible fertilisers: beneficial not poisonous.

Packaging was organic: jute and cotton sacks; sisal cord and grass ropes, paper wrappers and none of it was indestructible.

On the contrary, most of it was re-usable.

Cotton and ten-stone flour packs were opened out scrubbed and bleached to erase the colourful lettering and converted into bad linen, aprons and other outer garments.

Jute sacks, when emptied of animal feed, were converted into 'bag rubbers' (ie, aprons for farm workers) or used and re-used to hold potatoes and other vegetables.

Paper was of course used as fire lighters, and as toilet paper. When discarded it was burnt and the ashes were used as fertilfsers. Nothing was Wasted.

Landfill sites were bulging and alternative sites are unobtainable. No-one is prepared to tolerate new ones anywhere near their particular neck of the wood.

A big question hangs over the alternative of incineration.

Meanwhile, chemicals and plastics me poisoning inland lakes and our soil .

Has the time not come to vote off the weakest link? To stem the flow? Is there anyone at Government level with the courage to say 'stop' to the packaging industry or even to persuade retailers to stop throwing plastic bags around like confetti?

In Barbaria, shoppers buy, and use, stout canvas bags and wicker shopping baskets which can at least be burned when worn out).

A tiny minority of supermarkets here now charge for plastic bags. The Dublin Government is threatening to impose a tax.. butt!

Even if we cannot afford Aghalee-woven osier products, ie, shopping baskets, we could at least subsidise this means of weaning some tiny minority of shoppers off plastic bags.

At least 20 a week flow in to most households.

I have even been handed a plastic bag with a bar of chocolate or a newspaper this week. Shop assistants must think, we like them.

"Who is the weakest link? Time to vote off the menace."-Over to the Local Assembly ,'

Ulster Star