Over a tonne of rubbish was removed from Ireland’s rivers, canals, lakes and beaches in a day, including 20kg of dog poop, adult toys and ‘endless’ shotgun shells.
Environmental organization Flossie and the Beach Cleaners took on ocean pollution in their annual The Big Weigh In 2022, which saw 440 volunteers across the country cleaning up their local waterways.
The aim was to raise awareness of the levels of pollution in and around Ireland’s rivers, canals, lakes and beaches on any given day.
From Sunday morning until 4:00 p.m., volunteers gathered at their local waterways and beaches, equipped with special “flossie packs” containing bags and scales to keep track of the garbage collected.
The volunteers with the wildest finds were awarded hats.
The good news is that this year more volunteers cleaned and less trash was picked up. Last year, when the charity held the same event, the total amount collected was almost 3.5 tons, more than triple the amount this year.
The charity believes this could mean that “people are less polluting or maybe taking their rubbish home”.
While the drop in pollution was welcome, some of the litter found painted a shocking picture.
“One of the worst findings was during a cleanup where a group in Kilcoole (Co Wicklow) picked up 20kg of dog waste,” the charity said.
“While another group in Galway is collecting endless shotgun shells from large fishing vessels, they are shooting at seals and seabirds that are attacking their fishing nets.
“Other weird and wonderful finds included a car bumper, a live field mouse locked in packaging, and an ‘adult toy’.”
According to Flossie Donnelly, the 15-year-old who originally started a beach cleaning club in 2017, the planet is “now in crisis mode.” She said a key part of slowing climate change is protecting the water sources that make up over 70 percent of the earth.
Harriet Donnelly, Flossie’s mother and head of the charity, said: “As an environmental charity, we’ve seen firsthand how much extra pollution has been caused during the pandemic, including masks, plastic bottles, wipes and single-use coffee cups, polluting our waterways and has demurred Caused so much damage to marine life and the biosphere.
“A year later there are fewer masks, but still endless tissues, plastic bottles, coffee mugs and the newest culprit for 2022 is vapes.
“Our Big Weigh In shows just how much damage pollution is doing to the planet. Being part of the solution and organizing a cleanup shows young people that they can make a difference and once you see the pollution of a cleanup, you can’t ignore it.”