From plastic bags and beer bottles to car parts, food wrappers and diapers, the Red Deer River has a wide array of garbage that collects along its shores each year.
Around 30 Red Deer residents helped clean up the mess on Sunday, as part of the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
In all they collected 90 garbage bags, finding old bikes, around six shopping carts, cigarette lighters, tobacco packaging, shoes, six-pack holders, 10 air pumps for pumping up an air mattress, condoms and sleeping bags. The volunteers even found a burglarized cash box and a 51 Ave. sign.
Volunteers cleaned shoreline around the Kerry Wood Nature Centre and the city’s BMX park.
“We’re trying to change the mindset of people and trying to keep Red Deer clean. We notice a lot of garbage right next to the garbage can, which is unfortunate people don’t take the time to throw it in the garbage,” said Suzanne Jubb, a community and program facilitator with the City of Red Deer who helped organize the cleanup. “But again, I think the cleaner we can keep the city I think people are eventually going to get it and pick up garbage even when they go for runs and walks, and take pride in their community, and keep it green.”
Volunteers wearing heavy gloves worked from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The leader of each team was given a back pack full of garbage bags, recycle bags, cleaning gel and a needle safety kit in the event that they found a needle. One needle was found during the clean-up and disposed of using a kit.
Sherri Lynne was at the event with her daughter Alexis Holmgren, age 9. Lynne has helped with past cleanups and seen shopping carts in the river, an issue for herself as a canoeist.
Holmgren wanted to get a head start on her Girl Guide badges. “It makes me feel good to have an opportunity to help the environment,” Holmgren said.
It was Julianne Knopp’s first year taking part in the cleanup. The Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School grad dropped by with three of her friends to help.
“I’m just really passionate about helping the environment and making a difference in our community,” Knopp said.
Besides cleaning up the shoreline the volunteers kept track of the items they collected to help determine the cause of shoreline litter in each region of the country. In 2008, more than 1,500 sites around Canada the were registered, removing more than 130,000 kgs of garbage from shorelines across the country as part of the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.