Recently, we went to La Fontaine Park with garbage bags in hand, ready to clean up the park! Upon first glance, there wasn’t much garbage on the ground. But we were quickly wrong. When you see one piece of garbage, you see all of the garbage. It’s similar to an optical illusion; once you see it, you can’t un-see it. It’s almost as if we are wired to just ignore all the garbage around.
Personally, I loved this lab. We talk about the issues that are plaguing the Earth and they seem daunting to accomplish, especially by ourselves. However, there’s trash everywhere. If we all just took 30 minutes a day to pick up garbage, the Earth would be so much cleaner. You might not even notice a difference right away, but you’ll feel better and be more motivated to carry out similar actions. I believe the class felt the same way about this activity. It was a nice day to be outside and be with nature. Most of our labs were outdoors which was really nice but those were observing labs. It was nice to be an active citizen and help the community out.
There were two best parts in this lab. The first was seeing the before and after of all of the garbage collected. When we first arrived at the park, we didn’t really see any trash but not soon after, we starting seeing a lot of trash. We were picking up all kinds of garbage for about 45 minutes and it was very satisfying seeing the final bags, pictured above. The second best part was an encounter we had while picking up the garbage. Just before we left, a person who worked with the park came up in a truck and seemed to be emptying the garbage cans. Our teacher, Shona Watt, went over and started talking to the worker and our teacher explained that we were there cleaning up garbage in the park for science class. The park worker was taken back and very appreciative that we were doing this. The worker explained that there is a lot of trash in the park and she wished more people would clean up the garbage like we were doing.
The most interesting part had to be the types of garbage collected. There were a lot of paper products such as receipts, instructions, or just flyers that people were trying to hand out. There were also a lot of beer twist-off caps and a few beer cans as well. However, I did stumble across a really interesting piece of garbage… a plastic piece from a car. Yes, you read that correctly. This was a piece of plastic from a center console of a car. I have no idea how that ended up in the park but I was shocked to the say the least.
My biggest takeaway was the fact that this was such a simple activity that had a big impact. You can listen to music or a podcast while picking up garbage and the time will fly by. Not only will you feel good about performing a good deed, but the area you cleaned will also look a lot nicer! Bottom line: Go clean up more garbage! Even if it’s only for 30 minutes, it will still make a huge difference. I know I am going to be doing this more this summer. It really does take only one person because then someone else will see you working and they will want to help you. This little ripple can have a huge effect on the environment. The only hard part is starting, but after that, it gets easier and easier. I promise.