Cork and Waterford students tackle riverside rubbish with Green Schools and Irish Water

11 February 2022

Green Schools Water Ambassadors from Cork City and Lismore, Co. Waterford, took part in a clean-up at Lee Fields in Cork City this week alongside staff from An Taisce’s Green-Schools team, supported by Irish Water.

Over 27 volunteers from St Francis’ Capuchin College, Christian Brothers College and Blackwater Community School took part in the riverside clean, removing over seven bags of rubbish from this busy walking route outside the city centre.

Among the items removed from the park were large volumes of plastic such as bottles, sweet wrappers, discarded face masks and other sanitary items. Many of these products may be littered on land, but end up polluting rivers, as they can be blown into waterways by the wind or dumped or dropped near to riverbanks. 

The students taking part in the river clean first assessed and categorised the type of litter they collected, before safely disposing of it in bags for collection by Cork City Council.

This is one of six beach or rivers clean-ups that are taking place nationwide throughout February as part of the Green-Schools Water Ambassador Programme. Staff from Irish Water, which sponsors the Green-Schools Water Theme, are taking part alongside local students and volunteers in the clean-up activities around the country.

Ruth Gaj-McKeever, Senior Coordinator with the Green-Schools Water Theme, said: “We were delighted to have so many enthusiastic volunteers at our beach and river clean-ups. Not only are they helping to improve our natural environment by removing unwanted litter, the clean-up events are also a great opportunity for the students to learn more about our water ecosystems and how we can all play our part in protecting these precious resources.

Wastewater Lead for Cork city, John FitzGerald added: “Safeguarding Ireland’s water and wastewater system is a top priority for Irish Water but it is not something we can do alone. Everyone can play their part in protecting our seas and inland waterways. Even a small change can make a big difference, like putting those wet wipes and cotton buds in the bin rather than flushing them down the toilet so that they don’t end up on our beaches and waterways. Congratulations to all the Green-Schools Ambassadors and volunteers for their outstanding work in helping clean up our beaches and raising awareness about the value of our water.

Irish Water’s sponsorship of the Green-Schools Water Theme is in its ninth year and in that time over 3,000 schools have completed the water theme. As well as workshops for students and events such as beach clean-ups, Green-Schools also runs an annual poster and video competition on a water theme. For more details see https://greenschoolsireland.org/water/.