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[greenyes] Celtic Circle
Recycle Scene
Richard Anthony
December 2003

Celtic Circle

This fall (October 2003) Debbie and I traveled through Ireland and Wales.  A 
recycler's holiday in the land of the Celtic tribes, Debbie's roots, and zero 
waste workshops, my passion. 

We flew in to Ireland at the Shannon airport and traveled by taxi, bus and 
train.  We stayed several nights in Limerick, Galway and Dublin each.  While 
walking the shops and seeing the attractions, we observed the disappearance of 
the plastic bag.  There is now a tax on plastic bags in Ireland.  At night, on 
local Irish TV, we tuned in to a public debate over a newly introduced "bin" 

The European Union has mandated reductions in organics disposed of in 
landfill. The Government of Ireland is part of the Union and sees the new tax as a 
way to finance these newly mandated "waste management costs."  A commercial on 
TV, aired after 9:00 PM that week because of its graphic content, showed an 
Irish neighborhood submerged under a tidal wave of garbage.  

In the debate, the public never denies the need for recycling but complains 
about the new tax.  Being from California, we were able to swap opinions with 
cab drivers and locals on the benefits of Arnold (they wanted to tell me); and 
the reasons for the bin tax (I wanted to know their opinion).  This is "Quid 
Pro Quo" tourist style.

In Dublin, we saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College.  This is one of the 
oldest books in the world, or Ireland, or somewhere.  This book includes 
original transcripts of the bible written by Irish monks during the Roman Empire.  
Debbie being a librarian was very impressed about the book, and I was impressed 
with the display that showed how the pages of these books were made out of 
animal skins; and that the inks came from all over the world (blues from 

Through out Ireland we were able to communicate with the folks at home 
through Internet cafes we found in Galway, Dublin and later in Cork.  

We took the ferry from Dublin to Wales, the train to Bangor, and a taxi to 
Beaumaris, which is located in North Western Wales on the historic Island of 
Anglesey along the Menai Straits.  In this beautiful seacoast town with a 13th 
century castle, we had a view from our hotel room across the Straits facing the 
mountains of Snowdonia.  One morning I awoke to a sunrise that splashed color 
over the straits and on the newly fallen snow of Snowdonia.  It was remarkably 
both "brilliant and lovely".

The first meeting of the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) Board of 
Directors included over a dozen people representing NGO's from many countries in 
both hemispheres.  Our agenda included drafting the mission and charter for 
the group.  In three days of discussions, of which one member characterized as 
"violent agreement," we produced a draft charter, an application for nonprofit 
NGO status, and a plan for the next year.  We agreed that the mission of the 
Zero Waste International Alliance will be "Working toward a world without 
waste though public education and practical application of zero waste principles." 

After our meeting we traveled east to Llandudno, Wales, for the annual Wales 
recycling conference.  The Welsh Recycling Association is called "CYLCH" which 
is Welsh for circle. The Saint George Hotel in Llandudno AKA "Where Snowden 
meets the sea" or Beautiful haven of peace"  was the venue for the CYLCH 
Conference whose theme was Getting it Sorted.  

Llandudno is a coastal resort town with a century of Welsh history.  The 
speakers represented the Welsh Government, recycling industries, collectors and 
processors.  The Welsh have the social and legal organization, and most of the 
market infra structure in place to seriously pursue a zero waste system.  

Although in Ireland we were able to communicate to the folks at home via 
e-mail at inter net cafes, we did not find the cafes in Wales.  We found instead 
the inter net at the post office and pubic libraries.  Wales has a great system 
of Internet access through the public library system making the location of 
the local library wherever we went, a necessity.

After the CYLCH conference, we had a weekend in the City of Cardiff.  Cardiff 
is the capital city of Wales and was a major port for the US troops in WW II. 
 We spent the days in the city, the Castle and the port area, locating and 
exploring the public museums and the local library.  

On Tuesday the first Zero Waste Workshops began in Cardiff.  This workshop 
was quiet and thoughtful. Over a hundred recyclers came from southern Wales to 
hear the international experts speak about zero waste.  Canada, Australia, New 
Zealand, Philippines, Colorado, California, Japan and England were 

Eric and I led a workshop on education.  My input was "Save Wales, Recycle."  
There was a "can do " spirit at this event that implied the inevitable 
success of Zero Waste in Wales.
Thursday morning we flew to Cork, Ireland for the second of four zero waste 
workshops.  Cork is the second largest Irish City and in our cab drivers 
opinion the only true one.  

We arrived after the opening session. Several hundred people were in 
attendance.  I joined the conference and Debbie went looking for the Blarney stone and 
the local library.
The atmosphere was intense in the conference hall and the room was full of 
elected officials, business people and concerned citizens.  

Mal Williams Executive Director of CYLCH and our host for the ZWIA meeting, 
the CYLCH conference and all four zero waste workshops and his enthusiastic 
staff had developed an agenda that sprinkled the international speakers with 
local program mangers and successful programs.  There was much emotion and 
discussion and a lot of consensus in the end.  I think we witnessed the beginning of 
the Zero Waste Ireland campaign.

From Cork back to Limerick by train and then a cab the next morning to the 
airport at Shannon, we were home again after nearly 24 hours in airports and 

While we were gone San Diego County's outlying and rural area caught on fire 
and State and National forest, Indian lands and private property burned.  The 
aftermath left dozens dead, hundreds of homes destroyed, thousands of people 
left homeless, and tens of thousands of acres of smoldering burned out land.  
Most of the recycling coordinators in fire areas are working in disaster relief 
and now, cleanup programs.  

We arrived home in time to be part of the Enviro Fair organized by San Diego 
CRRA Chapter President Nancy Strauss.  Over three hundred citizens attended 
the event.  After a workshop on venue recycling, an after lunch lecture by 
Captain Moore on plastic pollution in the ocean ("move over plankton here comes 
plastic"), and the green building workshop, several dozen people met with the 
leaders of key environmental groups with the intent of organizing a zero waste 
communities alliance in San Diego. 

We had come full circle.

San Diego CA 92109

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