In Dublin 7, Making a Map to Encourage People to Repair and Reuse

Local groups in Phibsboro, Cabra and Stoneybatter are making a map of businesses in Dublin 7 that repair household items – and they want help.

The “circular economy” map should encourage people to get belongings mended, to reuse what they have, and to think again before buying something new, says Gerard Meaney, a member of Phibsboro Tidy Towns.

We mostly have a “linear economy” at the moment, says Meaney. “It’s the idea of take, make, and waste, you know. So you buy something and you dispose of it.”

The circular economy is in direct contrast to that, he says. “In a lot of ways, it’s kind of going back to how things were done before, you know? That you might sort of repair your clothes rather than replace them.”

Meaney wants locals to fill out a survey with ideas for what points should be on the map.

He’s made a map as an example, with five charity shops, a low-packaging grocery store, two repair shops and the library. “You can see that there’s really very little repair facilities,” he says.

Although, ponder it a bit and the line between what counts and what doesn’t becomes harder to draw.

Spreading the Word

Last year, Phibsboro Tidy Towns was awarded a grant from the Environment and Nature Fund from the Community Foundation for Ireland, and the Environmental Protection Agency, to raise awareness of the circular economy.

“The map would be one part of that,” Meaney says. “Publishing it is creating awareness around it as well.”

Phibsboro Tidy Towns has declared a climate emergency, he says. They’ve developed an energy master plan and a biodiversity action plan for the neighbourhood.

“All of which will contribute to climate action and the goal to decarbonise Phibsboro,” he says.

Phibsboro, Stoneybatter and Cabra are working together on the map and if more neighbourhoods joined, Meaney says, he hopes it would become a North Circular Economy map.

“The climate crisis is at a stage in society, where maybe it’s helpful to start working together more and more so we’re not replicating the same work,” he says.

Stephanie Dickenson, a member of the Stoneybatter Sustainable Energy Community, also called Cosybatter, says she hopes people will find it helpful to know what’s out there.

“And to use that as a way to, you know, sort of reuse, repurpose, and save money as well,” she says.

Drawing It Up

Meaney isn’t sure himself, he says, where the line is between what counts as part of the circular economy and what doesn’t.

On his starter map, he didn’t consider mobile phone repair shops, he says. “I didn’t really see them as circular economy, because they’re … well, maybe they are.”

What about letting agents? “You could include estate agents in the circular economy as well, couldn’t you?” he says. “They’re recycling houses.”

Dickenson says it hasn’t been simple to think of places to include on the map. “Where are we drawing the line? What are we including and what are we not?”

“There’s a sort of computer repair shop near me,who have saved my life a number of times,” she says.

Hardware shops made her stop and think, she says. “They’re obviously not repairing stuff for you, but they’re helping you repair.”

Meaney says the map is evolving. It’s just a starting point through which to gather ideas, thoughts and suggestions, he says.

“This is why we want to have a questionnaire that we can invite other people to put in their points of view,” he says. “A map created by the community would be much more interesting.”

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Claudia Dalby: Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at [email protected]

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