Littering in the River Boyne: An Issue We Can No Longer Ignore.

The River Boyne is one of the defining natural features in the town of Drogheda. It is a river that has played an integral role in the development and history of our town. Yet it is somehow beyond our capabilities to adequately maintain and keep clean this vital asset in our community. You need only to take a look over any of the bridges spanning the river and you will likely witness plastic bottles, non biodegradable packaging and even the occasional shopping trolley carelessly thrown into this river which not only is an asset to the people of the town, but is a vital ecosystem that is home to several species of animals and plants.The Green Schools Committee in Saint Joseph’s Secondary School here in Drogheda decided to carry out an investigation into the issue of littering in the River Boyne in various locations across the town but it was primarily focused o the area surrounding Mell Football Pitch and Saint Dominic’s Park. On various dates in February 2018, members of our Green Schools Committee travelled down to the river bank and photographed a truly disgusting amount of litter that was present,These photos reflect the complete lack of regard or consideration for others or for the natural life that inhabits the river that is held by some members of our community. But as well as just identifying the problem of littering in the River Boyne we have also tried our best to come up with a series of solutions to the problem.

Possible Solutions To This Problem One solution that the Green Schools Committee came up with was an increase in the financial penalties that are handed down to those who are caught perpetrating this crime. We believe that the current fine of €150 does next to nothing to deter people from carelessly discarding their potentially hazardous waste into the river. We believe that if we are going to properly stop people from ruining this great natural feature, the financial implications need to be severe and have a lasting impact. However, increasing the fines imposed on those who litter is pointless if those who litter are never caught and prosecuted. It is for this reason that we believe that another possible solution for the problem of littering in the River Boyne is an increase in the amount of Closed Circuit Television cameras and litter patrols present along the river bank. These are absolutely vital in tackling issues of littering in any area. People need to know that if they are going to litter than they will be caught, they will be identified and they will face the consequences. Another area that needs to be considered in tackling littering problems in Drogheda is an increase in the amount of adequate waste disposal areas in the town itself, particularly in housing estates surrounding the river. Much of the litter in the River is centred around these estates yet there is little to no means for people to properly dispose of their waste. If there are no bins around, then you might considering dumping that litter in any way you can, which in many cases means carelessly discarding that litter into the big River Boyne. Even in the town centre, there is a noticeable lack of waste bins in many areas and it is no coincidence that these areas are areas with large amounts of litter. Even where there are bins, these are often overflowing which leaves people with little choice but to throw that litter in another place.

A Final Word One thing that we have discovered while researching this problem is that it is not going to solve itself, people don’t just grow out of littering. We need to educate people on the dangerous effects of littering on their communities, we need to pressure our local and county councils and urge them to implement these solutions that we have highlighted and any other that may present themselves. As our town continues to grow and with events such as Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann coming to Drogheda this August and with the increasing tourism that we have experienced through the Ireland’s Ancient East initiative, the problem of littering in the River Boyne needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

By Michael Traynor, Seán Carolan and the rest of the Green Schools Committee at Saint Joseph’s Secondary School, Drogheda. We hope to spread this article through our School Newsletter, School Website and through local newspapers.