A COMMUNITY group on a mission to tidy up Cork's coastline is taking care of waste dating back as far as the fifties and sixties.
Proinsias Ó Tuama who heads Clean Coasts Ballynamona said that recent beach cleans have shed light on the longevity of materials like plastic posing a significant threat to sea life and beauty spots.
Items accumulated during their clean-ups included a washing powder box from the sixties.
Others such as cleaning fluid containers boast one-penny discounts suggesting they are many years old.
"I don't think there is anyone who would be getting that excited about a one penny discount nowadays," Proinsias said. "This is testament to just how long plastic lasts. Another item we found was from Lux washing powder that came all the way from France."
He said that a lot of the waste is sewage-related.
"We are coming across a lot of sewage-related waste," he said. "Little things like cotton buds can be hard to recognise because they don't have the cotton on them. It's the little pink straws the cotton comes on that are being left washed up on the beach. We are seeing a lot of sanitary items that are being flushed down toilets instead of being disposed of in bins. The water waste treatment can't filter these out. What happens is they end up in waterways and in our seas. Everything from make-up remover wipes to sanitary towels are just being flushed down toilets."
Proinsias also expressed concern about broken glass left over from beach parties.
"If you're going to a certain area of the beach and you can't sit down because of debris then it's going to take away from the experience. Once we get a handle on this it's going to make a real difference."
The organisation has been forced to ramp up its efforts due to the alarmingly high volume of plastics being found during beach cleans.
"The amount of plastic bottles that have built up over the years is quite significant."
Clean Coasts Ballynamona was formed in 2015.
In addition to their 275 regular volunteers, they have included more than 800 schools in their beach cleaning events.
The organisation's partnership with Saint Colman’s Community College in Midleton saw them crowned winners of the Ocean Hero School of the Year event in 2018 for the fourth year in a row.
Mr Ó Tuama added that they are in desperate need of financial donations so that their efforts can continue.
To find out more about how to donate or provide corporate sponsorship readers can visit the group's Facebook page or log on to https://www.ballynamona.org/