That was the message from many who volunteered a few hours of their Saturday morning on Sept. 17 during the 26th annual International Coastal Cleanup.
“It’s amazing how a small amount of people can make a big difference in a small amount of time,” Talena Badieme, an alternative education teaching assistant and Key Club advisor at Westfield Academy and Central School, said.
In addition to Key Club members, WACS’s Environmental Club also had representatives helping clean up Westfield’s beach on First Street along Lake Erie. In all, around 20 people participated at the Westfield location, ranging from students to Westfield residents to folks from Ithaca, N.Y. and Erie, Pa.
“It just speaks to the dedication of young people,” Diane Clark, Director of the Greystone Nature Preserve said.
One of the organizers of the event along with her husband Bill Moran, Clark and Moran have been participating in the annual beach cleanup event for 15 years. Moran thought the turnout was excellent and was pleased with the response received from staff and students at WACS.
“It’s important to me because you need awareness in regards to water pollution,” Moran said. “I think the public need to be constantly aware of things getting into the water.”
In that time, she has noticed less and less trash every year, but noted the garbage being found now is smaller in size, probably due to the amount of time it has been pounded by the powerful lake.
“We can really see the changes,” she said.
Participating in his first beach cleanup, Westfield resident Mike Ceci sees the connection between cleaning up the lake and his work with the Ripley Hawk Watch. Last year, Ceci said he saw a hawk with a fish hook in its mouth and fishing line trailing from the hook.
“This is where they get it,” Ceci said, referring to Lake Erie. “It really makes sense to clean up the environment.”
Ceci was amazed as to how much trash he found in such a short time and added that cleaning up the environment sets an example and tone that the task is important.
A mother and daughter team of Sue and Kristin Grohol from Westfield learned that even in just one hour, they could find a lot of trash. Kristin, a junior at WACS, is a member of the Environmental Club and she and her mother said they would be bringing a trash bag when they go for walks in nature to pick up trash whenever they can. They will both be back next year.
Fellow Environmental Club members Katie Guest and Haley Goddard, both seniors at WACS, took time out of their weekend to pick up a beach they hang out at during the summer months.
“It felt good to clean up,” Guest said.
The two said they found a lot of plastic and food wrappers on their walk and that, after their time at the cleanup, they will see the beach in a different way.
Their message to others using the beach — “Don’t litter.”
As part of the costal cleanup, people are asked to walk the beach, pick up trash and record what and how much was found. That information, along with the same information from all the participating beaches, is then sent to the Center for Marine Conservation in Washington, D.C. More information can be found at www.oceanconservancy.org.
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Photo by Jenna Loughlin
Sue and Kristin Grohol from Westfield sort through and document the trash they found along the shores of Lake Erie in Westfield on Saturday, Sept. 17 during the 26th annual International Costal Cleanup.