"Save our seas" is the theme of a new education centre located at Hook Head Lighthouse in Co Wexford, one of the region's most popular visitor attractions.

Last year over 200,000 people travelled to Hook Lighthouse, with 50,000 buying tickets for the visitor centre and everyone else enjoying the amenities around the centuries-old facility.

Now, along with the lighthouse itself, the gardens and yard, maritime centre, outdoor play areas, café, and rugged coastline, a new Eco Education Centre is open to the public.

The official launch takes place this evening, coinciding with World Lighthouse Day, but the eco centre has had its doors open in recent days and is already getting an enthusiastic reaction from young and old.

Lighthouse manager Ann Waters said that many of the 15 staff at the centre already live their lives by trying to "leave no trace," both at home and work, and doing all they can to raise awareness of the impact of climate change, and now they want to bring that knowledge to the public.

"It is time for critical action around climate change," she says. "There is small movement and certainly more awareness around ecological living, but more than radical change is needed."

A strong element of the eco-station is the need to reduce the amount of plastic being used - and dumped - and Ms Water points out that, of the 9.1 billion tonnes of plastic produced worldwide since 1950, close to 7 billion tonnes are no longer in use. 

Just 9% was recycled, 12% incinerated, and the rest left in our oceans and on our land.

"There really is only one solution, use zero to as little plastic as you possibly can," she says.

Hook Lighthouse's own sustainability strategy, in place since 2012, focuses on waste and energy reduction and with this in mind they have banned plastic containers while the glass bottles used for drinks are crushed, when empty, and then used for walkways in the garden and other purposes around the site.

Most suppliers to the café are local while anything that can be recycled, is recycled.

The new eco centre has been part funded by a grant from Bord Iascaigh Mhara's FLAG project, which uses grants to promote coastal community schemes around the country.