Volunteers work tirelessly to keep towns litter free

Tidy Towns groups across Cork are working tirelessly to keep their communities clean. Today as we continue our week long series on litter, we talk to Co Chairperson of Clonakilty Tidy Towns DIARMAID CREGAN, about their work
Volunteers work tirelessly to keep towns litter free

Clonakilty Tidy Towns volunteers.

THEY say it takes a village to rear a child but it also takes a village to help keep that village clear of litter. Clonakilty Tidy Towns is made up of about 50 volunteers that work all year round in fighting to keep Clonakilty litter-free.

From April to September, our group meets (pre-covid time) twice a week to do a general clean-up of an area within the town. This would involve weed clearing and litter picking. We also would have some volunteers out picking litter over the summer weekends, where we help the local council in cleaning up the town in the morning for the day ahead.

Our present Tidy Towns president Noreen Minihan recently said on the Eco Eye TV programme: “Everybody in Clonakilty needs to take Pride of Place in their town.”

This is the motto that drives everything we do in Clonakilty and when I say ‘we’ it means all residents and businesses of the town.

Our group encourage everyone to take pride in their own area of the town because no one small group can help keep Clonakilty free from litter, it has to involve a much larger population of the town. 

An example of this was a few weeks ago when I was coming back from dropping my daughter to GAA training, I spotted a man who was out running on the footpath at the western end of the town and as he was going along he was picking up pieces of litter on the footpath. This is the kind of example where, if everyone does a bit, the overall outcome is a litter free town.

One thing we know if you don’t keep a place free of litter, it will attract more litter as people think another piece won’t be noticed but if the area is litter free it discourages a person to be the first person to throw litter there.

Clonakilty Tidy Towns volunteers
Clonakilty Tidy Towns volunteers

We regularly visit all the local schools both Primary and Secondary and engage with the pupils of how they can play a role in keeping Clonakilty litter free. Each summer for four weeks we would organise a Junior Litter Patrol pick around the town with 5th and 6th class primary school pupils with the supervision of a Tidy towns volunteer. Afterwards the children would receive a treat for their work. This has worked very successfully in keeping Clonkilty litter free during the height of the tourist season of July/August. Unfortunately due to covid we have not been able to continue this but hope to do again in the near future when conditions allow. Our young generations are the future and with their help now will pay huge dividends in the future and will keep Clonakilty clean and beautiful.

We also work closely with the local authority and local businesses on how to keep Clonakilty free of litter. It takes a collective effort when it comes to tackling the problem of litter. In the past, pre-covid, we worked with KWD waste management company on their annual spring clean where we picked multiple bags of rubbish of the approach roads to the town from up to 5km from the out skirts of the town.

When it comes to rubbish bins there is a huge debate about these, whether there is enough, too many, and the type of bin provided and how often they are emptied. An example of this would be our local beach Inchadoney where in the past, many years ago, bins were provided but as they attracted large volumes of rubbish and were abused with domestic rubbish been dumped in or near the bins and as a result they were removed. This now places the onus on people who visit the beach to take personal responsibility for the rubbish they generate by bringing home the rubbish they generate on their trip to the beach. 

The overall effect of this has been the reduction of litter on the beach, you will always get a certain amount of litter from time to time , even if there was a bin provided, it still would not be used. I regularly walk the beach with my two dogs and usually pick one or two items of litter on my walk and dispose of it at home.

One of the biggest issues we have in the town of litter is dog litter, this type of litter is not just an nuisance but a health issue, especially to children.

Even though the town of Clonakilty provides dog litter poop bags in dispensers scattered throughout the town, it still does not eliminate this disgusting problem. Sometimes when the bags are used to pick up dog litter they in turn are then discarded at different locations around the town which defeats the whole purpose of picking up the dog poop and discarding of it properly.

At the end of the day when it comes to any type of litter it is up to each person to take personal responsibility for the rubbish they generate and how they dispose of it. If each person does this then the litter issue will be reduced.

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