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One Trashy County

Lake Tire
Lake Tire

Saturday’s Big Sweep was a huge success. I volunteered with the Sierra Club at Latta Plantation to clean up the shores of Mountain Island Lake. Our group of six took a boat ride to the lake shore near McDowell Creek Cove. Within an hour and a half, the six of us collected at least three large trash bags full of– mostly recyclable– trash. We also found a tire, a bunch of baseballs (game of fetch, anyone?), a shredded fishing vest, broken fishing poles, a rusty metal barrel and two mismatched shoes.

The volunteers wondered how the trash got there: did it float back into the woods when the lake level rose? Were campers not packing out their trash? Were people accidentally littering or blatantly littering? Opinions were divided; some volunteers think people litter on purpose because they know folks like us will come along and pick up their trash (which is a disgusting thought) and others thought most of it was probably accidental, not able to digest a reality where people would litter on purpose.

However the trash got there, we all felt good about offering our time to pick it up. As we hiked in the trail-less, road-less area, we found several areas where the woods were so full of trash it was difficult to walk without crunching on rubbish with every step. In some places the trash swept back into the woods 1,000 feet or more from the shore.

It was a sad sight. It is difficult to understand why anyone– accidentally, or not– would allow their junk to float around, and rest on the edges of, our city’s drinking water source.

In a time when so much seems to be going wrong in our world, I have to announce to you all that pitching in– being proactive about caring for our corner of the world– will lift your spirits.

Mecklenburg County coordinators counted 195 volunteers at the Mountain Island Lake location. Those volunteers removed 4,000 pounds of trash from the lakeshore. All nine Big Sweep locations across the county, including Mountain Island Lake, hosted 735 volunteers and  removed 16,200 pounds of trash. Truly amazing for four hours of volunteer time.

The only hard part was leaving knowing we hadn’t picked up every scrap of trash we could. Unfortunately for my group of six, we ran out of trash bags.


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