Adopting one for the road
Yasmin Hyde on a stretch of the N25 in Co Cork that her company, Ballymaloe Country Relish, has adopted. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
A scheme that keeps roads tidy, at no cost to the tax-payer, is making waves in Cork and Cavan Adopting one for the road
Do you get annoyed by the amount of litter strewn along the approach roads to towns and villages in Ireland? Do you find yourself hoping tourists look the other way if a scenic spot is blighted by rubbish accumulating nearby? If so, you may be interested in an innovative recession-proof initiative to keep these areas cleaner.
The Adopt a Road scheme (see panel) has been gaining momentum here since it was first adopted by Cavan Co Council in 2004. Michael Mussi from the Waste Management Section of Cavan Co Council first noticed the signs on highways in New York and made some inquiries. “When I came back, I adjusted what I could find to suit Ireland and was given the go ahead by Cavan Co Council,” he says.
Since then, about 50 businesses and voluntary groups have become involved with the Adopt a Road scheme in Cavan. “It tends to be the roads coming in and out of the towns and villages that are adopted and each sign stops at the reduced-speed-limit signs into the towns and villages,” says Mussi.
He estimates that the entirely voluntary effort has meant that almost 1,000km of road verges have been looked after that the council wouldn’t have had the resources to clean. “Some groups just pick up windblown paper and fast-food wrappings while others will also deal with scrap metal, like the odd shopping trolley or bike and even dead animals. We send out litter wardens the day after the clean-up to collect the rubbish bags.”
Appalled at rubbish
Yasmin Hyde, the owner of Ballymaloe Country Relish company, was so appalled at the rubbish building up on the N25 Cork to Cobh road that she decided to take action. “It’s a lovely road through the estuary of Cork Harbour, which was built about 10 years ago. I noticed the rubbish slowly beginning to gather close to where I work and I was ashamed when I had visitors over from the UK. I was also aware of the tourists – from the cruise liners which come into Cobh – taking day trips along this road,” she says.
Hyde approached the county manager about the issue. “He sent litter wardens out once or twice a year but the rubbish still built up,” she says. So, instead, she decided to take out radio advertisements that publicised the litter problem. “We said something like, if you want to see litter, come to Ireland and take the N25. The county council picked up the litter following the ads but it deteriorated again.”
So, she decided to pay contractors to pick up the litter on a regular basis. “We have since put up nice attractive signs with Ballymaloe Country Relish Adopt a Road scheme.” Hyde says that there are many other roads around Cork that businesses could adopt. “Many roads – some of them on the tourist routes – could do with monthly clean-ups,” she says.
Cork Environmental Forum (CEF), a voluntary group, has also been involved in the Adopt a Road scheme. “So far, in Cork, it’s just in the county area. We’d like to see the city included. In recessionary times, there is less public money available and things have to be done in an integrated fashion. There are other local groups like the tidy towns which could be involved and we’d also like to see the scheme expanded to include hedgerow management,” says Bernie Connolly from the CEF.