Rubbish highlights permanent nature of scars left by plastic litter on country’s coastline
A volunteer group that keeps Dollymount beach clean has used a series of photos of recently found ‘retro rubbish’ to highlight the permanent nature of plastic and other rubbish.
The thread features plastic items from as early as the 1970s and ‘80s and will be easily recognised by anyone who remembers them.
The Bull Island Action Group says it is hoping the vintage items will remind people of their past, but also highlight the fact that plastic never dies. The pictures can be found on the group’s Instagram page.
A Kellogg’s bicycle reflector found last month features the cockerel motif from the Corn Flakes brand and is estimated to have been from as early as the 1970s.
And other rubbish highlights how brands endure but their packaging and logos change gradually over time, making them both alien yet familiar.
Examples include a Fairy Liquid bottle from the days when they were tall white squeezy cylindrical items, and a Tayto Smokey Bacon crisp bag from the days where the price was printed onto the packet in the factory. In this case, 10p.
There is a similar Monster Munch bag when the snack would have cost you 20p, and a bag of KP Alien Spacers dated June 7, 1986.
A bag from Findus garden peas, dated 1974, was found submerged under the soil in April 2020.
The Snickers bar of today underwent a name change in 1990, and proof of this was found in June 2020 when the wrapper of a Marathon bar was found with a best-before date of March 29, 1987.
And it is not just plastic that has survived years in the elements. Volunteer rubbish pickers also found an intact copy of a magazine called Weapons and Warfare in the dunes in May last year. There is no date on it but it is Issue 73 and cost 45p in its day.
The last item in the list is a toy duck from the World Duck Race in 2006. “You’d wonder if we’ve learned anything about plastic and how long it stays in our environment,” the post says.
“There is a nostalgic side to this retro rubbish, but a sobering side too. When you find something that old you can’t help but smile, but then you realise how it has remained unchanged on the beach or in the sea for decades,” said one of the many Bull Island Action Group volunteers, Phil Behan.
“What is important to remember is that when you take it off the beach, it is gone forever. We are now at a time when we as a society recognise this litter as a problem, and each piece we pick up is one less piece that someone else would have to deal with down the line.
“What is remarkable about this rubbish is how unchanged it is despite years exposed to the elements. Some of them you could nearly wash and use again.
“Some of it is stuff that got blown into the dunes and was covered over by sand, only to be exposed again as the dunes move. Other items get washed in from the sea during storms.
“People are being more and more responsible about how they dispose of their rubbish now. In fairness, the vast majority of people act responsibly.”
Last year, Donal McGuirk, coordinator of the action group, said they also believe former landfill sites close to the sea, including one in Bray, Co Wicklow, could be another possible source of the rubbish they found.
“We have consulted with Clontarf Yacht Club to see if material that originated in Bray could be carried to Bull Island by the tide,” he said.
“We are not 100pc certain of this and we will need to talk to other clean-up groups in Wicklow and Arklow, but it’s certainly plausible that high tides or storms could have eroded the side of coastal landfills, resulting in rubbish entering the sea.”
Mr McGuirk said it was also possible that litter could have been buried on Bull Island and was now being exposed by coastal erosion.
The Bull Island Action Group gets volunteers over the age of 18 together to clean beaches and dunes on Dollymount Strand, the Bull Wall, parts of the causeway and the inner shore of North Bull Island. It meets on the third Saturday of every month from 11am to 1pm, meeting at the entrance to Dollymount Strand.