Colour is so uplifting, and it seems to glow even brighter in June.

Swipe right to see a few of my Summer photos:

Did you notice the red object on the water in the last picture?

For people who buy balloons and might not realise just how toxic they are, the truth is that they are lethal. Massive amounts of plastic is ending up in the sea and our water supply.

Contaminated water causes disease in humans, and it means trouble for all living creatures.  For example, in turtle populations ingested bits of balloons and other plastic blocks the digestive tract, leading to starvation and death.

Photo by Richard Segal.

We have plenty of alternatives to balloons for adding colour and joy to celebrations without causing harm; how about using flowers?

Balloons are usually tied with long pieces of ribbon or string, which tangle up birds and other wildlife. Disposable face masks have strings added too, and millions are thrown out every day, only to end up in our rivers and oceans.

The outer and inner layers of surgical masks are made from polyethylene and other plastics, while the ear loops are made of PA. These components are poison to animal and human health.

Researchers have reported that at Cox’s Bazar (the longest naturally occurring beach in the world), 97.% of recent pollution there was made up of facemasks.

Data collection is ongoing worldwide, and there is no excuse for this throw-away culture to continue. We all have the power to effect change, and as I write this in Ireland, I am aware that it is easier than in many countries.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Wearing masks could be mandatory for a long time to come. I bought one in Abbeyfeale almost a year ago. Sewn by a local woman, it cost the price of a cup of coffee and is lasting very well despite the fact that it is constantly being washed.

If you see friends, family, or work colleagues using disposables, could you start the conversation about where the plastics end up? How might you help people to see the bigger picture? What’s going on in your workplace, and who might you talk to about switching from plastics to fabrics?

Photo by Wallace Chuck

Here is a pattern to make a facemask from the brilliant Sew Change project:

When it comes to buying ready-mades, there’s lots of choice. Below is a list of some talented makers nationwide who you can find on Facebook, Instagram, or through a Google search. Support a social project or small business in your local area; they will be glad of your custom.

Arklow Ashgate Crafts

Armagh Gran Design Crafts

Carlow Other Mammy

Cavan Covid-19 Cavan face masks voluntary sewing group

Clare Craft Works Craft Shop Ennis


Donegal Livymc, Letterkenny.


Dublin We make Good social enterprise

Fermanagh Masks by Paris, Fermanagh Cottage Industries

Galway Mask Beo

Kerry Crafty Dingle

Kildare Ballyhutton facemasks

Kilkenny Darlene Garr


Leitrim Leitrim IKA

Limerick Needles & Pins (Abbeyfeale). Face coverings by Ruth (Limerick city).



Louth Sweetpea Creations


Meath Masks 4 all Ireland (volunteers in all counties, serving vulnerable groups).

Monaghan Monaghan masks for health care workers


Roscommon Castlerea RWN Roscommon Women’s Network charity shop

Sligo Livy Mc

Tipperary Stitchrite Norrie




Wexford Alice’s bits and bobs

Wicklow Fussy Galore

Finally, some words of advice from Mayuree Walshe in Limerick, who made lots of masks to donate to the city Community Response Team. “Don’t put them in a dryer or the elastic bands will melt!”

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