Monday, April 19, 2010

How To: Trash Bash!

This weekend The Mister, Wednesday and I participated in our communities annual Trash Bash. In light of Earth Day on Thursday, our (and I am assuming thousands of others) community hosts an event where they supply the bags, the gloves, the dumpsters and the BBQ (complete with veggie dogs) and we supply the man power and the whereabouts. Seems like a pretty decent deal. It is. It was a bittersweet experience though.


By bittersweet I mean, we got out, got fresh air and exercise, got the satisfaction of helping our community, got to spend time with friends and family. But that was where the sweetness ended. The sheer volume of garbage and litter we collected from two relatively small areas was almost defeating and definitely horrifying.

tall bag
This is one bag of two full of litter collected from the first playground we visited. Scroll down to view pictures of the massive amount of litter and garbage collected.

I did learn a lot from our experience though and so I wanted to share with you some easy to use tips and tricks. The first is a quick tute on how to make your own garbage stabber.

Garbage Stabbers
These are super handy fro saving your back and for picking up multiple items.

Doweling - 4ft length, 1 inch diameter
6 inch galvanized nail
Epoxy type glue (we used Gorilla Glue)

Drill with a bit 1/8" larger in diameter than your nail
Grinder w/ diamond blade or hacksaw with metal cutting blade

1. Cut off head of nail (with grinder or hacksaw)
2. Drill hole 2-3 inches into end of doweling
3. Fill hole with epoxy
4. Insert nail 2-3" into hole leaving 3-4" exposed
5. Let epoxy cure
6. Stab garbage

Still with me? Awesome. Moving on.

How to get your toddler to pick up garbage after spending two years telling them it is yucky!

Truth is, you might not. Wednesday and her friend helped for a bit but really they were more interested in the soaking-wet-made-for-much-bigger-kids jungle gym. But if you do get your kids to help, it is important to treat it like any other long outing. Bring the following:

  • Snacks
  • TWO changes of seasonally appropriate clothing
  • A friend their age, or one of your friends willing to play babysitter

And remember to be patient, 2 year old children have very little (but are not devoid) social conscience. We plan on doing this more and more throughout the seasons, hopefully driving the point home a little at a time.

What we ended up doing was taking Wednesday out in the morning and then bringing her home for lunch and nap and leaving her with Grandma whilst we went back for more trash bashin'.

Now it is time to gear you up. The weatehr is different everywhere in the world, I get that especially during transitional seasons like Spring and Autumn. It is during these seasons that I think more is always better.

  • You will need:
  • Rubber boots (How any one person can make it through adulthood without a pair of rubber boots is beyond me. Especially a parent of a young one!)
  • Lots of light layers.
  • A water resistant warm coat
  • Gloves (Two pair and the palms should be a little bit grippy)

*I also wore thermal underclothing but I am a wussy, but I was a comfortable wussy!

  • Lots of light snacks, fresh air and exercise make you hungry!
  • Travel mugs; Do you want to be seen with disposable coffee cups while you are trash bashing?
  • More garbage bags. Our town was pretty cheap with the bags so we went and got more ourselves.
  • Garbage stabbers! Seriously, you will be happy you took the time to make these.
  • Friends and family who do not think you are crazy. And a hubby who supports you no matter what.
Ok, just a couple more things and you are on your way to collecting some serious garbage!
First, let's talk about choosing a location to clean for just a second. We chose two parks for two reasons. One was we had been to both on recent occasion and knew (to some extent) the amount of litter there was to collect. The second reason we chose those parks was the child friendliness of the areas. there were no highways to worry about the kids running out on and there was no deep water we had to worry about them falling into.
I mention these two points because sadly, it is next to highways and water that the most litter and garbage is/was found. But these were just not feasible areas with two toddlers so we chose the parks. We will eventually go back to the high need areas but only after we have secured a baby sitter.

One last thing. Do not get discouraged. No matter how much garbage and litter (and there is a difference and you will see it) you find, and no matter how much your common sense tells you it will never end. You are making a difference.

This is a before shot of the 1000ft of shore we spent three hours cleaning.

This is an after and you can't tell how much we cleaned because most of the garbage was found in those reeds.

But, this is the garbage we cleaned out of there, minus two bags that I cleaned out before lunch. (This does not include the other two full bags from the other park that day.) In that picture is SEVEN tires, one exhaust system, four contractor sized garbage bags full of litter, 40ft of Big-O and PVC pipe, numerous plastic items and a garbage can! (Is that ironic or just sad?)

Go ahead, tell me we didn't make a difference! And we will do it again...and again...and again! Will you join us?

Happy Earth Week!


Anonymous said...

Wow, good for you! You're right that it's totally depressing that there is so much trash out there. I felt defeated in the same way the other day, but together we all have to be making some kind of impact, right?

fightlinker said...

Awesome to see you fighting the good fight :)

Wendy said...

Good work! It's amazing what people do.

Donna said...

Melissa, you guys are wonderful! I'm so glad you did that. I can't tell you how much you have hit on a pet peeve of mine..garbage dumping. People do it all the time out in the country. If they aren't dumping their's their trash. Just yesterday someone had dumped a few boxes of garbage right by the creek near our little bridge. In fact it's the favorite SPOT for doing all these things. That's one time when I really get plain old MAD! Especially, when people from town come out here and dump their faithful old dogs and a litter of puppies. But the garbage never ends. We are going to make a trip out to pick up the latest 'dump' today.

Good job! and Great post!

Olivia R. Burton said...

If you can order them/find them in your area, these would contribute to the cause: Biodegradeable garbage bags! Husband and I only use these, since I discovered them :D

Tyler said...

Clean up drives like this is really a big help in keeping our environment clean! Aside from regular clean up drives, a conscious effort from every individual to dispose of and segregate their trash properly should be observed. Also, the community should think of ways on how they can reduce waste production, like recycling.

-Tyler Perkins