Thames River cleanup now – and later

Ter­raCy­cle will take rigid plas­tic col­lected

The Chatham Daily News - - NEWS - ELLWOOD SHREVE THE DAILY NEWS - With files from Randy Richmond, London Free Press eshreve@post­media.com @Dai­lyNewsES

The Thames River is go­ing to get a good cleanup on Saturday, which is Earth Day in 192 coun­tries around the world, with a fo­cus on rigid plas­tics.

Vol­un­teers will be at a sec­tion of the Thames River near the Te­cum­seh Mon­u­ment, east of Thamesville, as well as at Light­house Cove at the mouth of the river.

How­ever, the co-or­di­na­tor of the cleanup in the Chatham area plans to wait un­til later in May to or­ga­nize an event.

“We want the wa­ter level (in the river) to come down,” said Ta­mara Bur­ton.

She said with the un­pre­dictabil­ity of the weather this time of the year along with the wet, slip­pery river banks from the re­cent rain can be a safety is­sue.

Bur­ton said there will be a lot more plas­tic and other garbage found when the river level low­ers.

Kevin Howard will be lead­ing a cleanup ef­fort that will be be­gin at the Te­cum­seh Mon­u­ment at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

“I’ve been host­ing this event here since 2011 and the area has def­i­nitely im­proved since then,” he said.

“The last cou­ple of years has seen a dra­matic de­crease in the amount of garbage that we’ve had to pick up, which is great,” he added.

Howard said garbage bags and gloves will be available for par­tic­i­pants, who he ad­vises should dress for weather con­di­tions. He added par­ents will need to su­per­vise chil­dren since they will be near the river.

Howard said this is also a good op­por­tu­nity for high school stu­dents to earn vol­un­teer hours for their diploma, adding if they bring their vol­un­teer forms, they will be signed.

There will also be a chance to learn about geo­caching, he said, since it is the South­west­ern On­tario Geo­cachers host­ing this sec­tion of the cleanup.

Gerry and Kris Hooft and their chil­dren are or­ga­niz­ing the Light­house Cove cleanup.

Gerry Hooft said those want­ing to par­tic­i­pate should be at the Light­house Lions Club by 9:30 a.m. to have a cof­fee and get sup­plies. He noted the cleanup will in­clude ev­ery­thing north of the rail line.

He also noted stu­dents are wel­come to get hours for their high school com­mu­nity ser­vice re­quire­ment.

Todd Sleeper has or­ga­nized the an­nual Thames River Cleanup for the past 18 years, which covers about 200 kilo­me­tres in 17 com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing Mitchell, Woodstock and London.

“We’re pro­mot­ing the adopt a river pro­gram for peo­ple to take care of a cer­tain sec­tion of the river,” said the London res­i­dent.

“If peo­ple were even to adopt their own prop­erty and oth­ers did pub­lic lands, I don’t see why we couldn’t cover the en­tire river,” he added.

Sleeper said Ter­raCy­cle has come on board this year to make sure hard plas­tics are re­cy­cled.

Ac­cord­ing to Ter­raCy­cle much of the plas­tic col­lected dur­ing the river cleanup isn’t ac­cepted by mu­nic­i­pal blue box pro­grams or has de­te­ri­o­rated in the sun, sand and al­gae to the point it must be land­filled.

Ter­raCy­cle has sent Sleeper 50 pre-paid pack­ing slips for re­cov­ered plas­tics, and he’s pass­ing them on to dif­fer­ent groups of vol­un­teers along the river. Each slip will cover al­most 70 kilo­grams of plas­tic.

“They’re ex­pect­ing a lot from us,” Sleeper said.

Last year’s cleanup signed up about 1,500 peo­ple to re­move garbage along the river.

Ter­raCy­cle, which re­cently launched a world­wide beach cleanup cam­paign, sends plas­tic to Proc­ter & Gamble Co. for re­use in pack­ag­ing. P&G an­nounced in Jan­uary its Head & Shoul­ders sham­poo bot­tles would be made with up to 25 per cent re­cy­cled beach plas­tic.

“Any­thing that is rigid plas­tic is material we want and we can use,” said Brett Stevens, Ter­raCy­cle‘s vice-pres­i­dent of material sales and procurement. “As long as it is rigid plas­tic, we re­cy­cle 100 per cent of it.”

The com­pany is reach­ing out to groups al­ready doing beach and river cleanups, and got in touch with Sleeper, Stevens said.

More de­tails on the pro­ject can be found at www.thames­river­cleanup.ca

FILE PHOTO/THE DAILY NEWS

Mem­bers of the Chatham Kent Se­condary School En­vi­ron­men­tal Club, Erin Reaume, left, and Brianna Ny­dam make their way along a river trail in Thames Grove Con­ser­va­tion Area look­ing for garbage.

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