Volunteers clean up plethora of river trash
Canoeing along the river is so much nicer when the shoreline and water are clear of litter, say members of a local family who took part in a shoreline cleanup in Red Deer on Sunday.
Chantal Stang and her parents, Mark and Roberta, were among a crew of more than 45 volunteers who joined Red Deer’s version of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup during the afternoon.
Supported by the City of Red Deer, Nova Chemicals, Trout Unlimited Canada and Tim Hortons, volunteers met at the Keery Wood Nature Centre, where they were each assigned an area to clean.
The Stangs, who were taking part in their first ever shoreline cleanup, were assigned to a pathway inside the Gaetz Lake Sanctuary.
Armed with garbage bags and disposable gloves, they found water bottles, cigarette butts, a bag of concrete, a discarded bicycle helmet and more cigarette butts.
People seem to think that cigarettes decompose in the environment, but the filters never break down, said Mark.
Those filters and other litter can be a real problem for wild birds, fish and animals, said Roberta.
She said that, although the amount of litter strewn along the shoreline is down from past years, she finds it sad to see some people still leave litter for others to pick up.
She is also hopeful that people coming into a clean environment will feel obliged to help keep it clean.
“We want to have a clean place for the animals and for everything to live.
“I think, you know, sometimes it’s accidental and sometimes people are just lazy and don’t want to bring their stuff home with them,” she said.
Suzanne Jubb, community and program facilitator for the City of Red Deer, said the amount of garbage along the river is down, but is still a problem.
“It’s getting better every year, but I think it will be a few years before we get it all,” she said.
“I think there’s getting to be more people that are willing to pick up after the ones that really don’t care and throw a whole bunch of garbage out. We’ll get there.”
The city runs two riverside cleanups each year, including a Green Deer day in spring and the Great Canadian in fall.
Jubb believes the generation of children who are now in about Grade 4 are developing a different attitude toward litter and are more conscientious about picking up their own trash than the generations that came before them.
“We need to take better care of our environment, because we’re putting our animals at risk,” she said.
“It’s nice to be able to go for a walk and it would be nice and clean.”
Jubb is taking inventory of the various items picked up on Sunday and plans to report her findings later this week.