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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cleanups - GlenCairn

In October 2008 I decided to take it upon myself to clean up a local community park I frequent. More specifically I decided to clean up the approximately 10 acres that most people use(park is over 100 acres). In this area many people partied and there were bottle caps, cigarette buts. more than 3 cases of beer bottles, cans and the normal junk you find floating around parks. This is a summary of my year of cleaning…
<=Some of the garbage picked up in the fall.
I cleaned the park once in the fall of most large garbage on land. Then came back in the spring to find just about as much garbage as in the fall. I then picked up all the large garbage again. This included some funky stuff like Kotex, condoms, bicycle, tires, boxes full of garbage and used diapers. I picked up all the large garbage on land but there was a lot of small garbage(like beer caps) still on th ground. This major cleanup ended with 6 large green garbage bags plus at least 20 small grocery bags full of garbage. Since I was driving my motorcycle I had no way of removing the garbage from the park so I stacked it all in one location figuring someone would arrange to pick it up. After 6 weeks I found out the official park reps, notified them and they finally arranged to have it removed about a week later. It felt really good to see the park much cleaner.
 More garbage collected.
Now I really got motivated… I decided to pick up every stick of garbage I could find. Over the summer I scowered the park for anything that looked like “non-natural” items and removed them. By August the park was spotless. Even the cigarette butts were al picked up. I started noticing that other people were picking up garbage as well and putting it with the stuff I picked up. Even better was there was dramatically less garbage being dropped. Don’t get me wrong there were some jerks still around(see below) but the majority of people were very good. The park had no garbage cans so I asked the reps to install one to reduce garbage. They agreed and put 2 large oil drum cans in place and chained them to a tree to stop theft. Things were great for a while until someone broke the chain and stole one of the cans. I informed reps but nothing was done(I even got attitude from one rep saying that garbage cans should not be there and what did I want her to do). This really upset me. It wasn’t like I wasn’t trying to help. So, I sat back and waited for what I knew would happen… Sure enough in about 2 weeks someone(I presume kids) tipped the remaining can over(now over half full of garbage others and I collected) and rolled it across the property into the river. In the process all the garbage fell out of the can onto the property(nice straight line at first). Needless to say I was not happy. I went back to the reps(the same one with attitude), informed her of the issue and requested the garbage be cleaned up. I was not going to do this primarily because this should never have happened if the rep would have acted in the first place. After 2 weeks someone finally came and picked up the mess and removed the garbage can. During this time I had not done any cleaning so I had to do another round of cleaning to return the park to pristine condition.
<= This picture shows SOME of the tires that were removed.
More pictures of other tires below. While cleaning up the land I noted there seemed to be a lot of tires in the river but decided to wait until the water got warmer to look at removing these. This was the biggest mess I found. In a 300 meter distance of river there were 17 car/truck tires(plus the 2 tires on land). I could not believe there were so many tires in such a short distance of water.
This picture shows some of the stuff taken from the river.
When I got around to the tires 3 guys on ATV’s helped by removing 3 of the tires at first. That meant I had a pile of 5 tires waiting to be picked up(2 from land). While waiting fo someone to pickup the tires some kids had a party and sure enough the tires were thrown into the woods and one ended up back in the water. The next day I went to the park and again I was not too happy. I found booze bottles and garbage everywhere. However at least someone had a garbage bag which was full of bottles, etc. A woman with her son were there looking for items he had lost while attending the party. I informed her of the situation but apparently her son was not involved. However, to my surprise a few days later I found the tires all picked up and piled again(plus 2 other tires were picked up). I like to think it was the son who came and cleaned up. I do not think he was the one making the mess but it was nice to think he cleaned it up. Now I finally got to the river. In addition to the tires there was a huge shovel(like one from construction trucks-not a hand shovel), bricks, bottles, cans and a few other trinkets. In one afternoon I took out all the rest of the tires and garbage, stacked them up ready for pickup and informed the reps. Also noted that it was important to remove them before some other kids decide to thow them back in the river. Two weeks later the tires were picked up.
So at this point(around August) I had cleaned up the river and land and everything was great(or so I thought). Sure enough I come back to the park and find an entire pick-up truck load of garbage dumped in the park(left picture). At least it was piled in one spot. Lot’s of boxes, a toilet, pipes, kids toys, binders, bottles, cans, etc. Again I was upset and went through the garbage to see if there was anything to identify the culprit. It appears they were very carefull not to leave any identifying papers. Given the amount of garbage I thought for sure I would find something. Contacted the reps again(must be getting sick of me by now) and requested it be cleaned up. While waiting for cleanup I noted several people had looked through the garbage looking for any identification so I know others were not happy about this either. The garbage was picked up and last I saw the park was clean again. At least no one threw more tires and garbage in the river.
I am in Florida now so I won’t know how the park is fairing until next spring. Hopefully it will be cleaner than last year ;) One thing this has confirmed to me is that people will keep things much cleaner if it is already clean. I definitely noticed the difference once the park was cleaned.
One of the prime reasons I wrote this is to motive others to do something. Sure there are headaches and often you feel like “why me” but the feeling of accomplishment and giving back to the community far out ways the problems. Will I do it again…. YOU BET! I am looking at doing the same thing in this and other parks for next year. So get out there and help clean up an area that you frequent. Forget about “others”. Sure they made the mess. One thought that really helped me stick to it was thinking about the number of times I dropped garbage(accidentally or not) plus the times I was not aware I dropped garbage. Let’s not forget I smoked as well. I thought this is making up for some of the mess I personally have created(others cleaned up after me). I am quite sure you can think back at times when you weren’t perfect. Especially when you were younger… Ever smash bottles with rocks?

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