I tried to have an eco-friendly night out in Dublin and it was surprisingly not easy 10 months ago

I tried to have an eco-friendly night out in Dublin and it was surprisingly not easy

conscious bits

The plastic straws are at it again.

Look lads, it's 2019.

A lot of people are making conscious efforts to be more environmentally friendly, with most people at least aware that climate change is an issue absolutely worth concerning ourselves over.

And while most of us like to think that we're doing our best, there are still a load of things that we could be doing differently - and things that we generally had never even considered before in our lives.

For example: the amount of waste generated by a single night out.

And so, in order to prove to myself that it was, in fact, possible to have a sustainable(ish) night out in Dublin, I set myself the challenge of being a bit more eco-friendly on a Saturday night.

I had everything ready, I was prepared.

I decided against buying a new outfit and instead dusted off some miscellaneous black items from my wardrobe. I wore some age-old boots my friend had so kindly gifted to me a few months back when I was in desperate need of comfort.

I bought some cans (no plastic), prepared to ask for a glass in the gaff (no plastic cups), and barred myself from sucking on any kind of straw lest it accidentally be made from - you guessed it - plastic.

It was becoming quite clear that the main culprit I was up against was single-use plastic.

Everything else - the clothes, the shoes, the drink itself - had been simple enough to sort. Minimal effort required to be that bit more conscious. The problem was plastic and whether or not I'd be able to keep my wits about me to avoid it.

In my mind, the night was to consist of three stages: pre-drinks, the club, and the post-food sit down.

The first two I was fairly confident of. I already had all of my things with me for pre-drinks and I was certain enough that I would, in fact, be entering a club that served their drinks in actual glasses.

The post-feed was where the danger lay. The drunken stupor, the lack of heightened senses, the need to get the 3in1 inside of my body as quickly as possible, most likely using a plastic fork or perhaps even a spoon.

It was a decision I was going to need to remind myself to be wary of. To be better than. To opt for the boiled egg and veg wrap in Spar instead of the delicious Chinese-based treat in Charlie's (no meat or dairy too, don't you know).

It was going to be difficult, but I had already shown up to a glam pre-drinks with fucking cans, I was in far too deep to give up now.

Phase one went off without a hitch. Landed into pre-drinks, cracked open my solid and not at all problematic mix of beers and cider, secured myself a glass from the press, and away I went.

The pre-drinks hosts in question had made their own conscious decision to purchase some paper straws for the evening too, so I didn't need to worry too much about not being able to suck my beverage from a distance.

I was drinking away, I hadn't wasted more money on a new outfit, I was assured that my cans would indeed by recycled and not just thrown in the black bin to be sent the landfill.

I was doing alright, and the night only continued to play in my favour when we arrived to the club (four to a taxi is better than one), the barman produced shot glasses made from actual glass and there wasn't a whisper of a disposable cup to be found.

It was fun, it was great, it was all going well. Until I saw it, the plastic straw protruding from my glass nestled snuggly between my lips.

It had happened. I had failed.

I had tried to be a bit more eco-friendly on a night out but instead I had a bit too much to drink and completely forgot what I was supposed to be doing. I had succumbed to the will of our plastic overlords.

That was it, it was over. I was so irrationally annoyed at myself that I wasn't even hungry anymore. The post-club 3in1 wasn't on my radar.

I was too ashamed that I hadn't even managed to go one night (one night!) without using plastic. I didn't deserve a curry.

And then after the initial disappointment, I realised that it literally didn't matter if I failed or not. Me avoiding plastic for a night out wasn't going to the save the world, nor was it going to make any sort of dent in the sheer amount of rubbish we've already accumulated on the planet.

But it did make me more aware of the amount of plastic floating abut the place, and the absolute lack of need for so much of it.

Waste was something I had never really considered when it came to my day-to-day activities. Sure, I recycle at home, I use a compost bin, I don't just bin my clothes after one wear.

But I also go to festivals and make my way through reams of plastic cups because I can't be bothered washing them, purchase bottles of water like they're going out of fashion, and cake myself in glitter that I've bought in the Art & Hobby shop for two quid.

The same can be applied to the average night out, but just a little bit less excessive, maybe.

If my failure had taught me anything (and it had), it was that waste is rampant and that most of the time, we're not even thinking about what we're drinking from, throwing away, or completely mis-using.

A few plastic cups and straws aren't going to destroy the planet beyond repair - in fact, switching to reusable cups and paper straws really is just a drop in the polluted ocean when it comes to the environment - but they are definitely representative of our wasteful habits.

It doesn't take a whole lot to reduce your plastic use - and it takes even less to be aware of the amount of waste out there.

(Just not when you're drunk and struggling to pay attention at the bar.)

And look, I'm fairly certain I walked home instead of getting a taxi that night so at least that's something, right?


During May, Her will be doing some more #ConsciousBits.

Over the month, we'll be learning how to re-use more than we buy, examining the sheer amount of waste the planet produces, and considering the many, many benefits of sustainable fashion choices. 

We'll also be chatting to some people who have made sustainability a priority, while setting ourselves a few environmentally conscious challenges along the way. 

Change is daunting and we're not perfect, but we can always try to do our bit. Our conscious bit. 

You can follow the rest of the #ConsciousBits series here or follow our Instagram account for more related content. 

Want to get in touch? Email us at jade@her.ie.