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Student Eco-Home leads the way in recycling

Web Administrator   Thu 09 May 2013   updated: Tue 22 Sep 2015

Spring cleaning their home in an environmentally conscious way is top of the agenda for a student household on the Ormeau Road. Aurelija Mikalauskaite and her housemates are taking part in TIDY Northern Ireland’s Eco-Home programme which is supported by Belfast City Council and the Department of the Environment’s Rethink Waste Campaign.

Aurelija is a first year student of Applied Sciences at Belfast Metropolitan College and became interested in the Eco-Home programme while working on a sustainability project. She was shocked by the statistics on waste - over 120,000 tonnes of waste was collected from Belfast households in 2011, the recycling rate was 32%, which meant that 80,000 tonnes or two Titanics worth was sent to landfill. It is estimated that 70% of our household waste could be recycled. Disposing of tea bags alone cost Belfast City Council £30,000 in landfill charges; tea bags could easily be disposed of in the brown compost bin. Aurelija decided to use the Eco-Home programme to improve her own environmental habits. She quickly got all of her housemates on board and now they are recycling more, reusing plastic bottles, wasting less food and switching their TV and chargers off when not in use. She said: ‘After reading my Eco-Home survey results I started to think about waste more seriously. I think everyone could benefit from this programme. I know lots of people think that anything they do individually will be small and won’t make a difference to the environment, but if everyone does something, together it can change things.’

Aurelija paid a visit to the Ormeau Road recycling facility to see what services are available there and met Councillor Pat McCarthy, Chairman of Belfast City Council’s Health and Environmental Services Committee, he said: “We are very pleased to be supporting the Eco-Home initiative as it represents a win-win not just for the environment, but for our ratepayers across the city. If other householders embrace the Eco-Home programme as Aurelija has done they could find that it makes a huge difference to their household bills and the amount of waste they are producing. Reducing the amount of waste we produce as a city is something the council is committed to and we need to see Belfast’s recycling rate reach at least 50%. This new initiative puts the issue back in the spotlight and is a reminder to people of the benefits of going green.”

The programme suggests not only great ways that householders can prevent waste but also how to reduce energy and water usage and consider greener transport methods. To take part, simply complete a short survey to get recommendations on efficiency changes you can make to your home. Once you’ve made the changes, you complete a second survey to find out the value of your improvements.

Carmel Fyfe, TIDY Northern Ireland said: “It is great to see Aurelija and her flatmates getting involved in the Eco-Home programme and taking simple actions like recycling and switching off appliances which all add up. Not only is Aurelija saving money but she is also helping to keep our rates bill down by properly sorting and recycling. We would invite all householders in Belfast to be an Eco-Home which is good for the environment, the economy and the householder.”

To take part in Eco-Home, join online at www.eco-homeni.org or call the Eco-Home team at TIDY Northern Ireland on 028 9073 6920. For information on Belfast City Council’s Recycling Centres and an A-Z of recyclables go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk.

Householders who register and complete the programme by May 31st will be entered into a prize draw where they will have a chance to win an Eco-Hamper to the value of £75.