Stu­dent project could be the key to a lit­ter-free coast­line

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

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.

Photo by De­clan Malone

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.

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