Student project could be the key to a litter-free coastline
A GROWING awareness of the need to protect our delicate coastal environment has provided the inspiration for a wonderfully imaginative student business project that is turning plastic litter into keyrings.
The project by four Transition Year students in Meanscoil Nua an Leith Triúigh in Castlegregory was born out of their school’s involvement in a marine litter arts project as part of the ‘Our Coast Our Voices’ initiative organised by Susan Vickers of An Taisce’s Clean Coasts section in conjunction with Dingle’s Other Voices music festival.
The message on protecting the marine environment was further emphasised at a subsequent talk given in the school last year by Martha Farrell of the Maharees Coastal Action Group, Dingle Oceanworld’s Head Aquarist Louise Overy from Cloghane, and Susan Vickers. The talk covered a range of issues, ranging from the problems associated with marine litter to the coastal erosion that is threatening the future of the Maharees.
All this emphasis on protecting our coasts made a big impression on Rachel O’Connor, Aoife Naessens, Aidan Dowd and Emma McKenna who returned to the topic when they were casting about for a mini-business project to enter in Enterprise Ireland’s Student Enterprise Programme.
The four students put their minds to producing a saleable product out of marine litter and the end result is ‘Fishies’ – colourful keyrings made from plastic litter that is minced up, ironed flat and then cut up into fish shapes.
The students have got a very positive response to their keyrings and they will be on sale shortly in local shops and online (look up ‘maharees conservation’). Showing good business acumen, they also have an eye on the summer tourist market and they reckon they should be able to sell to the overseas market as well.
Given the positive response the keyrings have received it looks like the four students will be working flat out to meet the market demand. They’re happy to take on the task and, after they’ve made their fortune, the students will donate all their profits to the Maharees Coastal Action Group to help further their efforts to protect the sandy coast of the Maharees from erosion which is taking away land at a rate of a metre per year.
Meanscoil Nua an Leith Triúigh students Aoife Naessens, Aidan Dowd, Emma McKenna and Rachel O’Connor with some of their fish keyrings made from recycled plastic.