A Co Cork school that cleaned 12 tonnes of litter from beaches, waterways, and rivers in their locality in just two days has been named School of the Year at An Taisce’s 2015 Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Awards.

The National Trust has described the students of St Colman’s Community College, Midleton, as “wonderful ambassadors” and hope that their efforts will inspire more schools to clean their local coasts.

The rubbish was gathered during two full days of beach cleaning with the school in May and September. The 12-tonne take excludes additional beach cleans with the local group Clean Coasts Ballynamona, on which some students also took part.

The 870 St Colman’s students beat 3,700 primary and secondary schools from across Ireland to claim the accolade.

A haul of collected marine debris from a beach clean by the students of St Colman’s

“The students of St Colman’s have been key to the removal of several tonnes of marine litter in the East Cork area, particularly near Ballycotton where they have been dealing with the ongoing issue of fly tipping,” said Olivia Crossan of An Taisce’s Clean Coasts Programme.

“They have shown a keen interest in protecting local beaches and promoting environmental issues in their school and throughout the community. This has been achieved through awareness raising projects and a website they have put together documenting their action.”

The students focused their efforts on Ballynamona Beach and the Wetlands Complex in East Cork and documented their progress, and items found, on www.ballynamona.eu.

Proinsias Ó Tuama, a teacher at St Colman’s, said the programme was a fantastic way to educate young people about the importance of protecting the environment.

“The ‘Think Before You Flush’ programme highlights the problem sanitary products can cause in our marine environment and our wastewater systems if they are flushed down the toilet,” he said.

“The students particularly enjoyed documenting the ‘retro rubbish’ that they found, including 7Up bottles from the early 1970s and crisp packets from 2000. Our students are enhancing the value of the coastline by reducing the impact of litter and other environmental damage through this project and we are very proud of their work.”


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