Young Clare eco-warriors combine sport with saving planet

Doora Barefield Community Games to eliminate plastic waste with reusable logo bottle

Graham Ball, Darragh Ball and Iarlaith McElroy at the launch of the Doora Barefield Community Games new waste reduction initiative: a reusable water bottle. Photograph: John Kelly

Graham Ball, Darragh Ball and Iarlaith McElroy at the launch of the Doora Barefield Community Games new waste reduction initiative: a reusable water bottle. Photograph: John Kelly

 

Monday is World Recycling Day when all across the globe people will aim to spread the message that reusing plastics and other materials is vital to preserving the Earth for future generations.

And in a small corner of Co Clare, one group of young eco-warriors has already started to make a big difference.

Doora Barefield Community Games has committed to encouraging every child within the group to purchase a specially branded water bottle in a bid to reduce waste and promote a more environmentally conscious outlook among its members.

With more than 300 children aged six to 16 participating in 54 events, the Clare group has the largest number of participants in the community games of anywhere across the country.

‘Cool’ accessory

Child-protection officer Vivienne McElroy said the group’s organising committee realised they could make a significant difference to the environment if they encouraged children to reuse their water bottles – and by branding the bottles with the group logo, they also became a “cool” accessory.

“We have a very large, busy group of children training for all sorts of sports and events from soccer and swimming to playing chess or taking part in a talent show,” she says. “For all of these activities, they need to keep hydrated and with several training sessions a week for many events, we noticed that that there were lots of children using once-off plastic bottles, with many being left at the side of the pitch or court after a session.”

Drum of water

The group has ordered 200 bottles with its logo on them, which are being sold to the children at a loss for €5 each. It is also liaising with a local water supplier to have a 20 litre drum of water available so there is always a refill on hand.

“We can have anything from 10-40 children at training sessions and events and if we can reduce the needless plastic waste by even five bottles per session, then we will have eradicated a minimum of 800 to 1,000 waste bottles this year alone,” says McElroy.

The not-for-profit voluntary group hopes to influence other parishes around the country to follow suit and help to make the National Community Games, currently under way in towns and villages across Ireland, a more eco-friendly affair.

“We are also very conscious of parents using takeaway coffee and tea cups as they watch and support their children. The vast majority of these are not recyclable or compostable so we would like to roll out a similar project and try to positively influence parents to make a wiser cup choice.”