Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

Beach Dave’s trash cleanup initiative inspires


Special to the Driftwood

Three years ago, I moved to Salt Spring, having decided this is where I would like to raise my child. I spent much time in the Gulf Islands as a kid and came to fall in love with this coast and its unique cultures.

We are all aware that garbage is a huge issue for all of the islands, given we are responsible for our own disposal of garbage, which costs money, with all the rural spaces that have been used as dumping zones and with a history of burning/ burying garbage, we have a complex relationship with waste on this island.

I distinctly recall being a child on Galiano Island and driving around with my caregiver who would constantly stop her truck to load up any garbage seen on the side of the road. “We all have to keep this island clean and work together” she would tell me. I have maintained this as a value ever since and I am so grateful that I had an adult instill this value in me.

Upon moving to Salt Spring, I had heard of this guy “Beach Dave,” as he is known, who was going around on his own time to collect garbage. How cool I thought! While I began to get familiar with our community members, many in the Ganges area, I discovered some really amazing gems, including Beach Dave. At the time, he was going through a rough period and shared that he was leaving the island for a bit to work on some of his health issues. I sensed he was worried about who would maintain garbage collection in his absence. I thought maybe my then four-year-old son and I might be able to help. After all, my child is always telling me we need to pick up the garbage. I mentioned this to Dave and within a day he had put together a bucket and child-size pick-up stick and bags for us. We met and walked along some of the busy garbage routes on the island and learned his process.

About a week later, after we thought Dave had left the island, we saw him walking down the road in his famous bright yellow overalls (sometimes in a swanky suit), collecting garbage. I checked in and learned that he had gone off island to try and access medical support, of which he was denied. Feeling defeated, he returned but with this fire inside of him to keep going and make healthy choices. It’s now been several weeks and I see Dave out every day cleaning. A friend noticed white pearl beads of styrofoam at Burgoyne Bay and raised concern. Within days, Beach Dave had helped to facilitate a group initiative where we, a group of at least five people, spent the day sifting foam off the beach and hauling garbage away. Honestly, it was one of the most beautiful days on this island I have had. Even a youth group came out to volunteer with the clean up.

Since then I have learned that Beach Dave has a whole kids program he developed to teach about taking care of the earth. He has created trash pick-up games, has prizes for kiddos collecting trash, and just this last week spent an afternoon with a school class on the beach doing a cleanup. Most recently he met with Capital Regional District personnel to try and encourage more garbage bins in the downtown core and invited them to join in a “jump in the creek” to clean it out behind the United Church. It ended up happening with huge success. All of this he says is “to make sure we leave a cleaner earth for the next generations.”

Here is the catch . . . He has been paying to dispose of bags upon bags of garbage with his own money and all the time he spends cleaning our island is done without any pay.

I am watching the motivation in this man spread like wildfire right now as more and more people are getting involved. I have seen the way my child lights up when he collects the next piece of trash off the ground and I hear him telling his little friends, “We have to take care of this earth.” I have observed this act of picking up trash motivate this man to find better health for himself. I myself feel a sense of community when I go out and have a social day collecting foam off the beaches and now there is a bi-weekly group cleanup which has become my social outings on weekends. Never did I think this would be so fun and meaningful.

I am asking our community to help support this initiative. I am a social worker by trade and I have seen what happens to folks when they find a sense of purpose, make healthy choices, engage in community and help future generations. All of this is happening through picking up this trash. I am asking folks to please contribute to this cause. Some ways that you can do this are:

1. Beach Dave’s GoFundMe page.

2. Donate Mid-Island Co-op points to 1429638.

3. Donate Return-it bottles to “Beach Dave’s Cleanup.”

4. Donate to Chuan Society at Island Savings. The society is supporting a collection of donations for Beach Dave’s project.

Please join the “Beach Dave’s Salt Spring Island Cleanup” Facebook page for regular updates about bi-weekly clean ups, tips for keeping kids safe while collecting garbage and footage of the great work that’s already happened.

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