Coláiste Muire Ennis Students Big Clean-up for World Earth Day

Mountains of butter cartons, veterinary equipment, German toothpaste and French shampoo comprise some of the debris which a group of secondary school students collected in a seven-month clean-up of a west Clare beach.

The students invited the public to help them mark World Earth Day last weekend, with their final beach comb at Doughmore in Co. Clare.

The six students from Coláiste Muire Ennis, Saoirse Kearse, Orla O'Neill, Niamh Hamilton-Jones, Cliona Redington, Alice Mahony and Leila Ben-Fredj - signed up for the weekly task when several of them began to notice the large collections of plastic on the shoreline.

They undertook research with their senior science teacher, Colette Redington, and discovered that much of the debris could be traced to containers washed from a ship off  the Wexford coastline in January 2010.

The containers were filled with empty butter catons that were deposited on several points on the west coast where tides and currents were slow enough for debris to accumulate.

The second-year students, all aged 14, opted to enter the Eco-Unesco environmental awards programme as part of their project. 

The programme encourages young people to make a difference and create awareness about an environmental issue that affects them and the wider community.

"Apart from butter cartons, we also found that pieces of rope and abandoned netting were very frequent, and we even found a car bumper and number plate at one point," Alice Mahony, one of the students, said yesterday.

"We have only missed one weekend - the time of the really cold weather - since last September, and we've had great fun working together, with the support of families and friends."

The students initiated a public awareness raising project, and discovered that a local mineral water company used biodegradable plastic bottles.

Click here to learn more on World Earth Day.