Spring cleaning along the shore

118 bags of trash over a half kilometre

By Lois Ann Dort    

CANSO – The motto 'think globally, act locally' has been a catch phrase in the environmental movement for decades. And last weekend some Canso-area residents took that adage to heart by heading out to Durell's Island with garbage bags in hand and a big goal in mind: return their much loved beach area to pristine condition.

Marie Parker was one of 25 people who jumped into action last Saturday; she spoke to The Journal about the clean-up effort on Monday.

Parker is a member of a large extended family and said that most of the participants in the clean-up were family members; from age 5 to 62.

Speaking to the impetus behind the clean up, she said, “We use the beach quite a bit and we noticed there was a lot of garbage there and we thought we could clean-up and involve our grandchildren and children.” Parker and others often work to keep their local community free of trash and decided to publicize this clean-up on social media and in the press because of the magnitude of the garbage problem, to help raise awareness and encourage others to get involved.

The first step was contacting organizations that would help in the provision of supplies. The Great Nova Scotia Pick-Me-Up sponsors — Nova Scotia Environment, Divert Nova Scotia and GLAD — supplied garbage bags and gloves based on the number of participants. The group quickly surpassed those supplies and had to supplement the stock as they filled 118 bags over the course of the four-hour clean-up covering half a kilometre of shoreline.

The majority of the garbage was plastic; bags, bottles, and even two plastic Christmas nutcracker soldier figurines. Parker said, ”We had fun with them for a little while. I said if someone was looking for a new man they could take one of them.” And that was a constant throughout the day, doing good work and having fun at the same time.

They also found a boot, a flipflop and a pair of sandals. But the weirdest thing found along the shore, said Parker, was a full bucket of corned beef.

“If you don't dispose of garbage properly, if you leave it in your yard, eventually it will end up in a waterway. I just want people to dispose of their garbage properly and we want young people to learn that as well,” said Parker. She notes that while the younger members of the cleaning crew got tired and may not have been able to keep up the pace throughout the day, it was important for them to see the adults working to keep their environment clean.

“A percentage of the garbage we found was household garbage and it is picked up every Friday,” said Parker, making the point that there was no reason for anyone not to dispose of their garbage properly.

“We hope people will be more aware of where their rubbish will end up,” she concluded.