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Northern Ireland: Round 2 Pledge ASAP Launched

ASAP Round2 Press Release

Northern Ireland must lead the world in sustainability, says Baglady

Environmental campaigner Shirley Lewis, aka Baglady, is challenging Northern Irish people, here and worldwide, today (11 January), to lead the world by taking Pledge ASAP [As Sustainably as Possible] for a better, cleaner and more sustainable future.   Launching Round 2 of Pledge ASAP in Belfast, she said that 19 MLAs including Environment Minister Edwin Poots and Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, pledged in Round 1 ASAP, along with former UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher, and East Belfast MP Naomi Long. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is the first TD. “Gerry Adams is the most famous pledger so far and MEP Bairbre de Brun is ready to pledge!” says Baglady.  “This is great; and we need more. Pledges are coming in from around the world since ASAP started in 2009. Kids Pledge ASAP, which we launched last year, inspired whole school pledges and 700 individual online pledges from children from around NI. But it was when six schools took their pledges to Stormont, that we got this amazing cross-party array of MLA pledges.  “Between now and Midsummer’s Day, we’re asking all MLAs, local MPs, MEPs, council Mayors, Chairs and staff, plus all candidates for the forthcoming elections and everyone who has a heart for the place they live in, to log on to and pledge,” Baglady said.

“The recent water crisis here in NI has truly alarmed many thousands of people. WWF figures tell us that we use four to five times our share of global resources in Northern Ireland and we’re still getting worse; this is grossly irresponsible.

“As I said on BBC Radio 4 on New Years Day, ‘We can’t just wait for the government, or the council or somebody else to do this stuff for us;  we all have to start taking responsibility for our environment….not next year, next week: today.’  “Living ASAP is what I’ve been doing for nine years, it’s brilliant, it saves loads of money and I love it,” Baglady said.  To encourage people to take the pledge Baglady has published the Top 12 pledges so far:

Giving up using plastic bags Giving up leaving lights on Giving up using chemicals in water Giving up wasting food Giving up leaving chargers and appliances on all night Giving up wasting heat Taking up short showers instead of baths Taking up drying clothes in fresh air Taking up free range eggs Taking up buying locally produced vegetables Taking up eating less meat Taking up walking more.

Recent government statistics show each Northern Ireland household produces on average 1.2 tonnes of waste a year. Just over a third is recycled and composted. “This is nowhere near enough, we need to do much more,” Baglady said.  Baglady will be at the Creative Arts Forum on Writers’ Square (15 Church Street Belfast) between 11 am and 3 pm today to receive your pledge. Or, please go online…



For more information, contact: Mark Smith at Chambré Public Affairs on 07710 450 462 or 028 9067 2243. Please note Baglady has no mobile phone; her landline is 028 2563 9609.

Notes to Editors

Baglady: Ballymena-born Baglady, alias writer, broadcaster and filmmaker Shirley Lewis, is a passionate life-long advocate and campaigner for the environment, who aims to rid the world of litter, rubbish and waste.  For her, living ASAP involves living without a car and travelling mainly by bike, on foot and by public transport, living without an oil tank, printer and mobile phone, and wherever humanly possible, all forms of packaging. When visiting schools, Baglady wears a fantastic array of plastic bags.

After living in Australia for 30 years, in 2001 Baglady returned to Northern Ireland – having launched Australia’s first nation-wide campaign against the excessive use of plastic bags – and was shocked at how dirty and severely degraded the countryside and coastline had become. For every linear mile in Northern Ireland she calculated that there was approximately 30,000 pieces of non-biodegradable rubbish. To date she has worked with 23 local councils on environmental projects and speaks widely across the UK and Ireland.

Since 2002, Baglady has worked with local councils, central government and other agencies to help to promote sustainable living and environmental awareness.  In 2005 and again in 2006/7 the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) [renamed Northern Ireland Environment Agency] funded Baglady’s NEEDabag? Campaign, which helped to reduce plastic bag use. She worked with the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trades Association, on NEEDabag 2 and with many other businesses including the Co-op and the Northern Bank.  The NEEDabag? idea was piloted in 40 Ballymena shops in 2004 and saw a 25% reduction in plastic bag use. The campaign was extended to 10 more councils in 2005.  Statistics: Household waste statistics are taken from the Northern Ireland Municipal Waste Management Statistics for 2009/2010 published in December 2010 by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Political Pledges: On ASAP Pledge Day 21 June 2010 children came to Stormont tell their MLAs what they had pledged and to encourage their elected representatives to do the same.  Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson MLA, pledged to give up leaving the lights on and take up more cycling. Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA pledged to give up burning the midnight oil so not to use up so much electricity and take up more cycling. The Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny TD, who was at Stormont holding talks with the First and Deputy First Ministers pledged to give up plastic-wrapped sweets and take up using reusable bags.

Naomi Long MP pledged to recycle food waste and give up using her car for one day a week. Last October, on a visit to Belfast, former Environment Minister Michael Meacher MP pledge was ‘something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time: turn off all my domestic gear [and there’s a lot of it] at night.’


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This article first appeared in the Platform column of the News Letter on 11 January 2011.

New Year’s Day.  Radio 4′s Look Ahead.  Four BBC correspondents make predictions for the coming year;  the listeners react.

2010 surely broke records for disruption, suffering and cost; here, in Britain and globally; due to snow, ash, earthquake, fire, flood, oil disaster and finally,  our own frozen water chaos.  Yet the talk on Look Ahead was politics, British and global; and the inevitable magical return to growth economy. Environment?  Nowhere.

I phone Look Ahead, and predict:

‘We will have more and more environmental issues to deal with.  We need to realise we can’t just wait for the government, or the council or somebody else to do this stuff for us;  we all have to start taking responsibility for our environment.

It’s not next year or sometime like that, it’s not even next week or tomorrow, it’s today. We can all start saving energy today; we all know what we’ve got to do; our kids will tell us, if we don’t think of it ourselves.’

They mostly don’t know it yet, there across the water, but we here in Northern Ireland are doing something very special about the environment, right now.  And our very own politicians are leaping over their political barricades and showing leadership.

I’m talking about Pledge ASAP [As Sustainably As Possible], Baglady’s campaign, where adults and children give up one thing and take up one thing, to live more sustainably  eg stop the flow of rubbish, save energy and reduce our impact on the planet, which is now 4 times what it should be and getting worse.

We launched Pledge ASAP in August 2009, KIDS Pledge ASAP in March 2010. On Midsummer’s Day 2010, children from 6 schools around NI took their pledges to Stormont, inspiring 19 MLAs,  including Gerry Adams, Edwin Poots and Sammy Wilson, to sign up.  MPs Naomi Long and Michael Meacher have started the Westminster ball rolling [50 MPs needed]; Enda Kenny was the first Irish TD, with MEP Bairbre de Brun ready to pledge! You can see all these pledges on our website.    Will they keep them?  We can help.

This week [11.1.11] we  launch Round 2 ASAP. We aim to sign all MLAs and election candidates by June 21st, and get our message out to Europe and the world.

At last, our politicians can be seen to lead!  Roy Beggs MLA took his pledges to Silverstream Primary School. The whole school, including teachers, kitchen staff, caretaker and some wise parents, pledged too. Something to really smile about….!!

For the first time ever [probably],  we in the ‘lucky’ ‘rich’ world can learn in a flash of a nanosec, what’s going wrong everywhere else. Trouble is, it’s a lot harder to learn what’s going right.

I  happen to know, there’s a lot going right  in Northern Ireland, in environment, sustainability* and our schools, and from the pledges we’ve got, I bet it’s the same all over the world.

The great global wastefest party is over.