A local environmental activist is using her successful free-cycle page to encourage Fermanagh residents to reconsider how they recycle.

Founded by Diana McChesney in late 2018, over two and a half years the Fermanagh FREE-cycle Facebook page, a platform where individuals can list unwanted items to give away, opposed to throwing them away or selling them, has amassed a following of over 13,000 people.

Through the page, as well as providing a free-cycle service, Diana aims to educate followers on the importance of making a conscious effort to reduce their impact on the planet while also encouraging them to consider re-evaluating their recycling choices.

“My drip-feeding to change the mindset on recycling is actually, ‘let’s do everything but recycle, because recycling should be the last resort’,” she said, adding.

“Obviously I recycle everything, but in a different way.”

Highlighting how free-cycling or finding a new use for an item is better for the environment than general recycling, Diana gave an example of a recyclable everyday household item that could be reused instead: “Jars are something that we throw out every week and yet glass can be reused and reused so why would you throw it out to recycle when you don’t need to break it down to recycle it at all.

“By [giving it] to somebody [on the free-cycle page] who is going to directly put it in the dishwasher and use it, you’re not actually having to send it to a recycling plant or to a company that is going to break it down to melt it which uses energy, time and materials to recycle.

“My emphasis is trying to say, ‘look, it’s not about recycling as such, it’s about reusing [and] reducing what you use, so let’s get away from consumerism’,” she said.

Alongside free-cycling, Diana is encouraging people to consider upcycling, whether that be giving a new lease of life to old clothes or finding a new use for a broken piece of furniture.

“It’s clear to see on social media and from the huge number of people engaging with and supporting the free-cycle scheme that there are growing numbers in our community from all ages and backgrounds who are passionate about reducing waste and reducing consumerism.

“The desire to recycle is there, people want to do something meaningful and positive but people need leadership.

“We need our elected representatives to see the numbers of people using this page and understand the need for our Council to step up and take meaningful, dedicated action in the area of recycling and reducing landfill,” said Diana.