Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

In an era of “cheap” manufactured goods, it can be tempting to buy things that we don’t actually need or to discard items that are still in working order. In the end, we all pay dearly as limited natural resources are wasted, landfills multiply and our oceans are threatened. Swords Tidy Towns tries to follow the advice of conservationists, who tell us to reduce, reuse and recycle. 


We have refurbished an old kids bicycle and placed it in our walled garden on Main Street.

Our bicycle got a makeover in 2022

We have also used old wire mesh panels from the DIY shop that was closing down to build some storage units for the paint in our poly tunnel.


Despite our generally wet climate, water is still a limited, precious resource. We have installed water butts at various locations about our town to collect water for our flower beds and hanging baskets. We also experiment with different watering systems to find the most efficient method.

In 2019 Swords Tidy Towns started a ‘No posters’ compaign – encouraging all election candidates not to put up posters on Swords Main Street.

In 2017 a furniture restoration class was attended by a few members of Swords Tidy Towns. The knowledge and skills gained help to reduce waste from throwing away things that can be fixed or upcyled with a little bit time and imagination.


Rather than buying all new plants, our gardening group reduces costs by reusing plants and using cuttings of plants from previous seasons. For example, at the end of summer cuttings are taken from our hanging baskets, and taken to our Polytunnel to be grown for the following year. Money saved can be spent on buying new plug plants.Rose Brennan and Mary Maxwell, who are in charge of our Polytunnel, are always looking for opportunities to reuse plants. Rose noticed some dry, weak-looking plants at a Lidl shop, and approached the manager. He was happy to donate them to us, and she was able to save them.In November 2018, Mary Maxwell was offered free plants from Fingal County Council, who were doing an upgrade on Pinnock Hill. Mary and fellow member Matt Cullen dug up these unwanted plants and created lovely new flower beds at River Mall. 

In summer 2021 we have been given some used sleepers and we have repurposed them at our extended flower bed at the river walk.

During the Covid-19 pandemic a whole load of construction rubbish were dumped in St. Cronan’s Estate. Most of the rubish were cleared away by Fingal County Council, but some heavy cement blocks were left behind. Our members took the cement blocks away and finished tidying up the area.

We are happy to report that a year later some of these blocks were repurposed in a flowerbed at st. Colmcille’s school.

STT upcycles materials for practical purposes, such as using pallets to make shelves and tables for our Polytunnel. 

However, we also upcycle materials for more artistic purposes. Our popular Christmas snowman was the brain child of Mary Maxwell. Tom McDermot, its creator, made it with the help of our group using old car tyres in 2016. In December 2018, he was joined by our new Christmas tree made from old wooden pallets.  At Easter 2017, our bunny appeared in the garden of Morton and Flanagan. He was made mainly from recycled tyres. All these decorations are mended and reused every year.

In 2016, some STT members spent a day at the Recreate Centre making props for the local St Patrick’s Day parade. These can be reused every year.Halloween 2016, was also an opportunity for our whole group to create costumes and props from recycled items for their annual bucket collection at Swords Castle. The following year Matt, our artist in residence,  designed our Halloween witch. Our group made it using cast off materials. 

In October 2019 as part of a new initiative, Ken Duffy and Matt (our school liaison officer) presented two secondary schools with recycled instruments, which they had collected from residents of Swords and had had repaired locally. This project will continue in 2020.


Here at Swords Tidy Towns we use composting as a form of recycling since it helps to transform waste into new, valuable material. Composting at our polytunnel not only helps us to reduce waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill or the incinerator, but it also saves us money that would have to be spent on buying the compost from other suppliers. In addition to our holding composting system, in autumn 2019 we have also set up a leaf mould cage in our tunnel. Another leaf mould cage was set up near our Bug Hotel on Dublin Road with the help of Fingallians GAA and a few more at the local schools in Swords. Collecting leaves keeps the streets tidy and provides us with invaluable material.

In 2021 we have started using recycled paint which had been made available to Fingal community groups for use on exterior walls and common areas in Fingal. It has been provided by the National Centre for Circular Economy/The Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun as part of an ongoing paint-recycling project sponsored by Fingal County Council’s Environment department.

When purchasing new items, environmentally-friendly options are always considered. Some of our planters and all the benches that we install are made from recycled plastic.