One of the packed trailers of waste collected from the roadside.

Call to put reg numbers on fastfood cartons

A local community activist is calling on fast food restaurants, particularly drive-thru facilities, to start printing the registration plate numbers of customers on cartons as a way to deter roadside littering.

Eugene Smith from Laragh is also asking retailers to be more responsible in how they sell items such as soft-drinks in multi-packs or ‘two-for-one’ offers after finding the extra often ends up being discarded.

He also claims the actions of those who fling rubbish from car windows is a “smack” in the face to volunteers right across the county who work hard to keep their local roadsides spic-and-span and as litter free as possible.

Mr Smith lives on the near two-kilometre stretch (R165) defined locally as between the ‘Fingerpost’ cross and the Cross Bar.

“We’ve been picking the hedges around there for years,” says Mr Smith, who explains that this year’s efforts back in February were boosted when many more in the community joined in.

There were co-ordinated collections in other parts of the parish too.

Together they collected enough roadside rubbish to fill three 8ft by 4ft trailer loads which, thanks to the cooperation of Wilton Waste and Cavan County Council, they were able to dispose of free of charge.

Lockdown, was in one sense, a “blessing” says Mr Smith, who is also chair of the local Community Alert Committee.

For one, there was less traffic on the road and, as a result, a lot less rubbish.

But since restrictions were lifted and fast food establishments opened their doors, he says: “It’s back to being worse than ever it was.”

In a letter written to The Anglo-Celt, Mr Smith took umbrage with the accusation of young Swedish eco-activist Greta Thunberg that older generations were to blame for global warming. He instead thinks that the responsibility of caring for the environment is one that should be shared by all.

“What I want to know is, who are these older generation/pensioners that are going to McDonalds late on Saturday night getting chips or going to the off-licence getting their bottles of lager and Coke, throwing the containers out their car windows onto our road? It was not our generation that destroyed your planet.

“Our sausages came from the butcher. Our chips came from the spuds in the back garden in biodegradable skins; tea in a mug not a disposable cup.”

PPE litter

Mr Smith has also noticed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items - disposable masks and gloves - among the discarded waste.

He expects these will feature prominently when locals get around to clearing the hedges next Spring.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” slammed Mr Smith, who is calling on the authorities to legislate for more ways to link rubbish back to its original owner.

“We have to do something. It’s clear the message isn’t getting through. We have to think outside the box, everyone needs to think on this we. We need solutions to this problem, otherwise we’ll be complaining again about it for more years to come.”