Seeing trash and debris along our roadsides is bad enough. But when you have a hand in picking up some of this garbage, it gives you a whole new perspective.
Students in Lindsey Oliver’s and John Blackwell’s science classes at Sand Rock School recently spent some time cleaning up their community as part of Earth Day 2015. With trash bags and other materials in hand, they set out from their school towards the town limits signs and beyond picking up what they could.
Oliver said she felt this project was a good experience for the kids as well as others who might follow their example and keep the trash picked up themselves.
“It has gone very well,” said Oliver. “We have gotten more bags of trash than I initially thought we would, which is a good thing, but at the same time, we hope the students are learning to be good stewards of the earth and to not litter because that is the main goal of this Earth Day project.”
Oliver said this is their second year to pick up in the Sand Rock area.
“And I can really tell a difference since we started cleaning up the roadways in Sand Rock,” said Oliver.
“We are finding cans, bottles, we hope nothing too bad,” said Oliver. “We are careful with what we pick up and we caution the students.”
“We have already gotten one truck load and it looks like we are going to have at least two more just this morning so we are really making a difference out here,” said Oliver.
“We hope people will see us out picking up trash and it will encourage people not to litter because we live in such a beautiful area and it is a shame that people do throw their trash out,” said Oliver.
Courtney Rowe, a senior forensics student, was one of the participants in the Earth Day campaign.
“We are cleaning up the Sand Rock community today,” said Rowe. “We are going all the way to the four-way stop and we will go all the way to 68 down that road. It is all within the limits of Sand Rock.”
“We are finding cans, a lot of different stuff,” said Rowe. “People love to throw trash out their windows.”
While she and fellow students didn’t actually witness anyone throwing anything out of their car windows, Rowe noted, “Once they get on down the road they probably throw stuff out. I think you shouldn’t throw trash out the window. There are trashcans for that. You should at least wait until you get home and clean out your truck instead of throwing it out the windows for other people to clean up.”
Rowe shared her views on ways to prevent people from disposing of their trash in this manner.
“Get everybody involved in picking up trash and then they can respect it so they won’t do it,” said Rowe.
“I hate people throwing trash out their windows,” said Rowe. “I can’t stand it. It makes me so angry because it makes our community look so ugly and trashy and people might not want to come visit here. It is sad.”
Senior Jennifer Ramsey said she enjoyed this project because she got to take advantage of beautiful weather and to enjoy that feeling of giving back to her community.
“I get to be out here with my friends,” she said. “I don’t care much for the trash, but it is helping, so it is fun.”
Some of the items they picked up, she said, included plastic bags, Styrofoam cups, broken cans and other items.
“We have found things like lip-gloss and stuff like that,” said Ramsey.
She also had a solution for those who insist on dumping their trash on our land.
“Let them get out here and do it themselves so they will know what is really happening to our environment and let them get out here and help so they will know,” she said.
Ramsey also said this experience has emboldened her to confront somebody if she sees them dumping on the roadsides.
“I am like ‘no don’t do that because I have to clean it up,”’ said Ramsey. “And it is always good to get the students around out and cleaning up so in the future they know this is our community and we don’t need to make it a trashier place. Sand Rock does a really good job of doing community work and getting everybody involved in community stuff.”
“We’ve gotten a lot of trash from all over the community on both sides of the road,” noted Chad, another student in Oliver’s class. “We have seen beer bottles, all kinds of stuff, I see where people have thrown out leftover food.”
Chad said he also found part of a helmet.
To prevent people from dumping their trash on the roadsides, Chad suggested putting up more signs advising of the fines for littering.
He also said he would have no problem confronting someone if he sees them littering.
“Yes because this is awful!” said Chad.
Madalyn Oliver, a junior at Sand Rock School, said she felt like the Earth Day project went well.
“We have picked up a ton!” said Oliver. “It just makes me sad that people throw stuff out the window. It kills the environment. I have had fun picking it up and being with friends and helping.”
Some of the items they found, she said, included beer bags, fast food bags and Vodka/alcohol bottles.
And any anti-littering campaign begins at home, she said.
“I keep a little fold up bag in my car so I can just put the trash in it,” said Oliver. “I love being able to help but it is just sad that people do this. But I think just keeping a little trash bag in your car can help a lot.”
Oliver also said she would have no problem stopping somebody that she sees littering or about to litter.
“Yes! Go put that up!” she said.
“People should go down their road one afternoon and pick stuff up! Just keep your trash picked up and help the environment!” said Oliver.
Ryan Gibson is a senior in Blackwell’s class who also participated in the 2015 Earth Day Campaign.
“I think it is good to help clean up the community, clean up the campus and working together, helping each other out because we are all family here and so we all have to help each other out,” said Gibson.
Gibson described some of the items they picked up.
“We have a lot of plastic, soda cans, we even got a sock!” said Gibson. “There’s a little bit of everything.”
Gibson shared how we can educate others not to litter our lands and roadsides.
“Just share some environmental science education,” said Gibson. “This really does hurt our eco system, it is really not good for our earth. We just really don’t need to destroy the earth God gave us.”
He also said he would have no trouble stopping someone if he sees them littering.
“Most definitely because we have all got to stick together,” said Gibson. “It is not just a one man job, we have all got to pitch in and do our part.”
Tyler King is another student in Coach Blackwell’s class who was involved in the cleanup.
“I think it is good we are all coming out here as a group and cleaning up,” said King.
“We are finding bottles, bags, all sorts of stuff,” said King. “Some we didn’t even know what it was. There are many things!”
One way to prevent littering, he said, is to wait until you get home to dispose of garbage or recycling, he said.
On behalf of her students and herself, Oliver shared one final Earth Day message.
“Just be proud of where you live,” said Oliver. “We live in this beautiful area and we need to keep it looking nice and have pride in Sand Rock and Cherokee County.”