Greening Salt Spring: Everyday heroes keep litter in check

Since launching our Greening Salt Spring campaign two weeks ago, the Driftwood has been thrilled by the wonderful response from so many people in the community. The island is already looking noticeably cleaner, and with many groups still intending to do their work this weekend, the island really will be shiny and clean on Sunday for Earth Day.

While the community’s willingness to join the campaign is commendable, we also want to make sure we don’t overlook those people who make a regular habit of picking up other people’s litter. One of the hardest working is Reg Aaftink, who has created his own microbusiness cleaning up things like cigarette butts and discarded receipts in downtown Ganges in return for donations. (A grassroots business campaign to clean up town this weekend will therefore be focusing on sweeping, scrubbing and gardening, not litter.)

The Salt Spring Trail and Nature Club often makes a point of bringing garbage bags with them on their hikes. They go to some of the most remote parts of the island — perhaps not surprisingly, places that host great trails can also provide covert for illegal dumping. Hike leader Charles Kahn said trails that run through Crown land on Mount Bruce lead to some of the worst examples. He recently discovered scores of heavy plastic pots, as well as metal and glass items.

“I don’t know if it was a grow-op or what it was, but there’s just a lot of stuff,” Kahn said.

Club hikers who went out the day before the Driftwood launched the Greening campaign brought back four cans of garbage and recycling from a popular motor recreation area, most of it beer cans. Kahn said they collected $11.50 in empties and found one intact can.

“Everyone on the hike took a couple of bags, and it looked pretty good by the end of it,” he said. “People were really keen. They really got into it. It was amazing.”

Kahn is looking for more help to take out some of the larger items located just near the peak of Mount Bruce. Volunteers should contact the Trail and Nature Club for more information.

Driftwood reader Susan Worrall reported an even more astonishing citizen cleanup. A temporary resident who lived here recently for three months picked up drink containers regularly on her walks in the north end and along Rainbow Road. She took three to four bags with her on every trip.

“In her last week she cashed in the containers. Her take home was $80. At five cents a shot that’s 1,600 drink containers. One person. Three months. Sixteen hundred containers alongside the road,” Worrall wrote.

Kit Lewis (who helped inspire this entire initiative) is another person who often takes a bag with her and cleans up whatever she sees on her walks. At age 92, she’s still picking up other people’s beer cans, and even pulled a hog-feed bag out of the ditch on Friday morning. Lewis has a long history of campaigning  on the garbage and recycling front. Her Waste Watchers group was responsible for getting paper and metal recycling bins installed in Rocky View, Alta. in the 1980s, and was nominated for a provincial award.

Martyn and Margaret Day are the reluctant cleaners of garbage that gets tossed onto their property from Beaver Point Road. Their 100 metres of hedgeline is where campers and hikers apparently throw their half-drunk beer cans on their way back to the ferry from Ruckle Park.

Thanks to everyone who is helping to reduce litter, whether this month or in their usual life. Hopefully with the added awareness and the cleaner roadways, Salt Spring will no longer seem like the place to discard the drink in one’s hand.

There’s still time to join in the campaign, and Fulford-Ganges Road is starting to stand out as a neglected area! We hope to see everyone on Earth Day for an announcement of totals collected so far.

New participants since publication last Wednesday are:

• Bishop’s Green residents: Fulford-Ganges Road from SAR building to town.

• Lloyd-Jones family: Park Drive, Lakeside and Kanaka loop.

• Bill Goddu: North End Road from Central to Stark.

• Peter Grove: North End Road from Stark to St. Mary Lake.

• Brook Holdack: Charlesworth from Fulford-Ganges to Reid, and both wings of Reid Road.

• Gretta Hildebrandt: Long Harbour Road from Eagle Ridge Road to Upper Ganges intersection.

• Norgard family and the Hikebabes: Near Cusheon Lake Road/Stewart Road.

• Jim Beck and Rosalind Wallace: Lower Ganges Road between Blain and Brinkworthy.

• Kit Lewis: Atkins Road.

• Patricia Calvert: Lower Ganges Road from Brinkworthy, heading toward the golf course.

• Salt Spring Elementary with SS Adventure Co.: Ganges Harbour beach cleanup.

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