Used syringe shock for big-hearted volunteers

by Emma Nolan

VOLUNTEERS at a clean-up day at Booterstown Nature Reserve were left shocked when a used syringe was discovered.
The annual An Taisce Spring Clean of the Booterstown Nature Reserve and Beach took place on Sunday, April 24, with 22 volunteers and a child taking part.
Alongside Irish volunteers, volunteers from China, Taiwan, Spain and France also took part in the clean-up.
With the aid of bags, pickers and gloves provided by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, the volunteers removed 24 four bags of rubbish from the reserve, the beach and environs.
Worryingly, amongst the rubbish was a syringe found on the fringes of a derelict site adjoining the reserve.
Volunteer Rebecca Jeffares, who has been taking place in this clean-up twice a year for 30 years, said this marks the first time a syringe or any drug paraphernalia was found on the clean-up.
Speaking to The Gazette, Rebecca said: “For the first time, one of the volunteers found a syringe on a piece of waste ground near the reserve.
“I’d never seen a syringe there before – never. In all of our clean-ups, we have never come across that. We clean up the beach and the reserve twice a year, and we’ve been doing it for decades now.
“I did a calculation and, in 30 years, we’ve collected more than 1,000 bags of rubbish, which equates to tonnes and tonnes of rubbish. Imagine if that 1,000 bags worth of rubbish was still there? We’d be drowning under it!”
However, Rebecca said there isn’t as much rubbish as there used to be, adding: “We used to have to clean up things like motor bikes, but now it’s mostly plastics, beer cans and discarded clothing.”
The nature reserve is one area the volunteers clean, but they also clean the surrounding areas.
The reserve attracts many visitors each year to view its diverse bird and insect life, and many species of migrating birds annually visit, including Canadian Geese.
Rebecca said: “It’s a feeding ground for them. A study was done on the reserve that found the mud there is as rich as the soil in the rain forest. It’s a terrific feeding ground.”

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