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Five tips for a plastic free July

This feature is part of the NCCWN Donegal Women’s Network, ‘Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series. Written by Angela Mc Glanaghey the store manager of Simple Simons in Donegal Town, to raise awareness to the global movement and campaign ‘Plastic Free July’.


As the manager of a local health store business ‘Plastic Free July’ is important to us because every single day we see such needless waste. As a business we try and reduce this in any way we can; providing refill solutions to cut down on plastic, offering boxes instead of plastic bags to carry shopping, reusing old packaging to send out our online orders etc. If we don’t stop what we are doing our world is going to run out of space. We must act now to make things better for further generations.


Plastic Free July begins this month, but what is it all about? We all know by now how important it is to cut down on plastic but sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. There are so many small changes we can make which WILL add up to make a difference, so here are my top 5 tips for a plastic free July. 

The main thing I recommend is first of all not to be too hard on yourself. When you first try to start it can be really daunting to try and cut all plastic out. Just realise that to make this planet a better place we don’t need 1000 people being plastic free all the time. We need as many people as possibly making small changes which are sustainable. I recommend trying two or three small swaps a week and building that over time.


Here are a few you can do

Reusable coffee cups. SO many of us are fond of our takeaway coffee. During the pandemic really it was all we had. So many nice things were taken away from us and sometimes getting out for a takeaway coffee was a lifeline. Making a swap to a reusable cup can make SUCH a difference. Remember, it’s not about ditching ALL plastic, that’s a really hard sacrifice to make. It’s more about reducing single use plastic. Even if you only get two takeaway coffees a week if you’ve got your own cup that’s over 100 cups you have saved from landfill. And many of us drink way more than that in a week!


Bring your own bag! How many of us have a drawer sitting at home full of plastic bags? By simply popping one or two into the boot of your car or into your handbag you can reduce the amount you buy from now on. Investing a few euro into a “bag for life” means you will have a strong and sturdy one you can use for years to come. 


Menstrual cups. The amount of waste a single woman produces in her lifetime simply by having a menstrual cycle is shocking. Menstrual cups are a fantastic solution. Each one lasts for around 10-15 years. No need for tampons or pads then. Most menstrual cups are silicone based, and while they may take a cycle or two to get used to they are fantastic. Much more hygienic, clean and plastic free. This is probably my personal favourite of the swaps as I think they are a real game changer!


Refills. In Simple Simons we offer refills on dried foods, body care, household cleaners, natural yoghurt, milk, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Simply bring in your own container and we will refill it for you. We aren’t the only shop doing refills so ask around. This means the plastic bottle or tub you normally use once and then throw away can be reused hundreds of times, saving so much unwanted single use packaging.


Beeswax wraps. In most Irish households clingfilm is a staple for wrapping sandwiches, leftovers etc. By swapping to a beeswax wrap you are choosing a much more sustainable option. The wraps are made with cloth and coated in beeswax. You can wrap food with them or use to cover food in a bowl. They can be wiped clean with a hot wet cloth and each wrap will work for up to a year. After that you can re-wax them and use again. 


Contact details for Simple Simons: 

Visit there website at: www.simplesimons.ie 

Email them on: hello@simplesimons.ie 

They can also be found on facebook: here


Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. Will you be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics? To find out more about this global movement check out the Plastic Free July the website


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

Women your lived experience matters

In June 2020, Donegal Women’s Network conducted a Covid-19 impact survey with 832 women living across Donegal taking part.  These survey results provided a snapshot into the lived experiences of women during the March-June 2020 restriction period.

The data gathered identified a series of issues impacting women across the county. The data further highlighted that the pandemic had created additional stresses for women in the County and added pressure to existing gender inequalities and gender stereotypes. The 2020 impact report findings can be read here.



The survey findings helped in the planning of our 2021 working areas and the development of courses and workshops for women. While as an organisation that promotes and supports women’s equality we shared our research report to all the Donegal political representatives, to highlight and ensure they recognise the issues women in the county are facing. In January 2021, Thomas Pringle TD highlighted our research findings to the Minister for Social Protection on Covid-19 during a Dáil Éireann sitting. 

A year on Donegal Women’s Network wants to hear from women living in Donegal again. We have developed a follow up survey and we are inviting women to share with us their experiences of life through the pandemic over the last year. Collecting this information from you will help inform our future work and allow us to document and bring a local gender lens to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women’s lives and feed into local post-pandemic strategies to support women.


Take part in this survey* HERE

The information gathered in this survey will be stored anonymously (unless you have agreed to be contacted for a follow-up with a member of staff) and securely. It will not be possible to identify you in any of the publications that may result from this survey.  

*All fully completed surveys (approx.15 mins to complete) will be entered into a draw with the chance to win one of a number of prizes that have been kindly sponsored, these include; a €200 Luxury Items Hamper from Cara Pharmacy, Tea for Two at Harvey’s Point Hotel and a lunch and dessert for two at Simple Simon’s in Donegal Town.


If you require a printed copy please email us at donegalwomensnetwork@gmail.com or text your details to 087 7981330 and we will send you one out along with a stamped addressed envelope for return.  If anyone would like to complete the survey over the phone please text Finola at 087 7981330 and we can arrange a time to do this.

Donegal Women’s Network is part of the umbrella organisation, the National Collective of Community-Based Women’s Networks (NCCWN). We support women who experience disadvantage and marginalisation as a result of barriers and lack of opportunities.


The information collected on this form will be held by NCCWN – The National Collective of Community Based Women’s Networks in manual and in electronic format. The information will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act, 1988, the Data Protection (Amendment) Act, 2003, and the Data Protection Act 2018 and your details will not be made public.

Remembering My Mother Through Baking

On 14th March 2021, Ireland celebrated Mothering Sunday a day to pay tribute to all the mammies and mothering figures in our lives, past, present and future. In this women’s lives, women’s voices feature, Grace Gerry reflects on her memories of her last mother and the love for baking her mother has passed on to her.


I pull out the greaseproof baking inserts for the loaf tins from the lower kitchen cupboard, in behind the Pyrex dishes and cake tins. And then I realise the last person to touch them was my mother, and she died ten weeks ago. It strikes me with a sad blow. She will never bake again. My sister showed me a photo recently that she took of my mother sitting in front of these same loaf tins at the kitchen table, the tins filled to the brim with boiled cake. Was this the last time she baked? When was that? Was it really only a little more than a year ago that my 94-year-old mother had baked these cakes?

Today I decide to make a lemon and orange cake. It is a quiet afternoon; the kitchen is tidy; I am alone and I love to bake. I measure out the butter, which is nicely soft from hours sitting on a plate in a warm room. I weigh the castor sugar followed by the self-raising flour, the eggs, the milk, and the baking powder. Today I am taking my time to get organised, assembling all the cake ingredients mindfully on the kitchen table before I start. I turn on the oven to 190 degrees, pull out the non-stick loaf tins and line them with the baking inserts. They are so much handier than greasing the tins to stop the cakes sticking.


I open the Styrofoam container of free-range eggs and crack each of them into my mother’s Pyrex bowl, a perfect size for the job. She always advised me to crack each individual egg into a cup first to make sure it wasn’t bad. I take my chances and crack each one in on top of the other, adding several tablespoons of milk according to the recipe and orange essence.

I recently bought a micro plane grater-zester, which is a great gadget for taking rind off citrus fruits. As I drag it around the freshly washed orange and lemon, the rind gathers in the folds in the device and falls into the bowl in clumps below. Later, the microplane releases a wonderful citrus scent as I wash it under the hot tap.

Now that I’ve measured everything, I put it all into the mixing bowl, retrieve the mixer and push the blades firmly in place, ready for action. I will leave the rind to stir into the mix at the end. Otherwise it clings to the blades. Three minutes later the cake mixture looks well blended and I use a spoon to stir in the fragrant citrus rind.

I carry the bowl of cake batter over to the kitchen table and ladle globs of it into the lined loaf tins, aiming to make both cakes the same size. I smooth out the surface of the cakes with the back of a spoon, open the heated oven, and arrange them on the top shelf.

With the timer set for thirty minutes I wash up the sieve, the mixing bowl, the mixing blades; tidy away the flour, baking powder, castor sugar and the eggs and wipe the kitchen table and counters. The cakes send out an aroma of sweet baking.


It’s time to make the icing. I search for a glaze icing recipe that involve orange juice and icing sugar. I find one and squeeze out an orange and lemon juice combination and pare the rind from a second orange as I have already used up the rest in the cake. After I have measured the icing sugar into a bowl, I wonder if it will be too dry. But as I stir in the fresh orange juice and rind it looks perfect, not too dry and not overly runny.

The oven alarm rings so I check the twin cakes. I take one out, push down on its top with my finger and it springs up again. It’s done. I turn off the oven and the kitchen is suddenly quiet as the drone of the oven fan is missing. I leave the cakes in their tins for a while to cool down, then spoon the icing over the top. I am not sure how it’s going to behave. It spreads nicely and drizzles down the sides. I keep heaping it on top of the two cakes until I use it up. They smell divine, a mix of hot cake and warm orange and lemon scent.

Once they are cool, I make a cup of tea and share a slice with my brother. It tastes divine. I know however if I don’t give them away they will tempt me to eat too much. I decide who to give them to and slide the cakes back into their tins for ease of carrying.

I ring the lucky recipient. They are at home, careful because of Covid. I tell them about the cake delivery and they are pleased. I drive a mile or two to their house and have a chat at the door. I suggest they lift the cake out by its paper insert and return the tin to me. They are delighted with the unexpected gift and I am glad to share it.

As I drive back home, I think about my mother. I am surprised how alike we are. She too loved to bake and to share it with neighbours and friends. Noticing the ways we were similar is warmly comforting, and while baking can never bring her back, every cake I make will always remind me of her.

Below is a boiled cake hand written recipe by Grace’s mother and an orange drizzle recipe from 1967. 


NCCWN Donegal are always looking for women to share their stories and looking for women to write features on topics of their choice which we will profile as part of our Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices’ series.

Art of Wellness Programme for Women

NCCWN Donegal is pleased to announce the launch of our ‘Art of Wellness Programme for Women’, which is being supported through the Healthy Ireland Community Mental Health Small Grant Scheme.

As part of the programme we will be offering a number of courses, workshops and activities which support, promote and provide knowledge and skills to support women’s mental health and wellbeing.

We are delighted to start the programme by offering the ‘Wellbeing for Women with Nature in Mind’ course by Michaela Mc Daid Ecotherapy. This unique 4-week course will introduce you to Ecotherapy and the importance of connecting with nature for better mental health. 

Over the four sessions, using the four seasons as a framework you will be guided on how you can use personal reflection to create space to reconnect with ourselves, journaling as a means of letting go, how to nurture gratitude and hope within our lives, engage in small group discussions and of course, have a laugh along the way!

The course will start on Saturday 27th February 10.30am-12pm, via Zoom for 4-weeks and we do require that participants can commit to all four sessions.

If you would like to sign up for this FREE course please fill in the online form here and Donegal women’s network will be in contact with you to confirm your place.

Booking is essential, so please book early to avoid disappointment.


This programme is funded through Healthy Ireland Community Mental Health Small Grant Scheme