independent

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Clean Coast's Big Beach Clean breaks records

Volunteers taking part in Seal Rescue Ireland’s Big Beach Clean in Courtown. From left: May and Karen Doyle, Jac, Janet and Shannon Devereux with Rosemarie Morris who took part in a beach clean at Rostoonstown, Wexford
Volunteers taking part in Seal Rescue Ireland’s Big Beach Clean in Courtown. From left: May and Karen Doyle, Jac, Janet and Shannon Devereux with Rosemarie Morris who took part in a beach clean at Rostoonstown, Wexford

Cathy Lee

A record number of people took part in this year's annual Big Beach Clean across county Wexford beaches when 15 cleans took place during the national weekend event which saw at least 45 tonnes of litter removed across the country thanks to the help of thousands of volunteers.

The beach clean up initiative, organised by Clean Coasts, was open to all residents of Ireland, including volunteering groups who are not based around the coast, and cleans of varying sizes and scales were organised in Wexford to tackle marine litter at its source.

A total of 450 volunteers took part in Wexford which resulted in an impressive near three tonnes of litter being removed.

'We were truly amazed by the response to this year's Big Beach Clean. Every year, millions of tonnes of litter end up in our seas and oceans, posing environmental, economic, health and aesthetic challenges. Ireland boasts spectacular sandy beaches and rocky shores and we all have a responsibility in caring for it. Every single piece of litter removed during the Big Beach Clean is one less piece of litter that will pollute our beautiful beaches or harm wildlife,' said a spokesperson for Clean Coasts.

'We were delighted so many joined us for this call to action.

One of the larger Wexford events was organised by Seal Rescue Ireland which saw youth groups like Yolo's Courtown, Gorey Youth Needs and the local girl guides group gather at Courtown main beach led by Kim Townsend Smyth.

While other events like this took place at Hook head, Rosslare strand and in Wexford with events organised by solo daily beach cleaner Sean Ferguson as well as scouts and school groups from Enniscorthy, Gorey, New Ross and Wexford.

The Tacumshane Old school and Community Development group held a clean up in Rostoonstown, Wexford and the group now hope to organise more clean ups in the area within the next few weeks.

The philosophy of Clean Coasts is to engage communities in the protection of Ireland's beaches, seas and marine life and the programme is operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce, currently funded by the Department of the Housing, Planning and Local Government and Fáilte Ireland.

There are over 800 voluntary groups currently engaging with Clean Coasts in Ireland, and this figure looks to be ever increasing.

Clean Coasts advise that personal action is very important, and that everyday choices matter to the future of our oceans.

Included in the top tips that Clean Coasts has for helping out the ocean, the team suggest avoiding cosmetics that contain micro-plastic beads, skipping the plastic disposable straw and the single-use cutlery like plastic forks where you can.

'There are many green alternatives on the market today. We suggest trying beeswax food wrap instead of plastic wrap, or washable instead of disposable snack bags. Even if a public bin is overflowing, never litter and hold on to your rubbish until you can dispose of it properly. When visiting the beach or park, spend two minutes before you leave the beach picking up a bit of rubbish. If you can't reduce or reuse, remember to recycle and know where and how to recycle all types of waste.

'Always remember to think before you flush, sanitary waste is very harmful for marine life. We advise to put a bin in your bathroom and only ever flush the three P's, paper, pee and poop.

For sustainability tips or information on starting your own group, visit cleancoasts.org.

Wexford People

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