Cleaning up New Harbour Barrens wasteland
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines litter in several contexts, including: (A) the multiple birth of animals, (B) material used to absorb the urine and feces of animals and (C) Trash, wastepaper or garbage lying scattered about, an untidy accumulation of objects.
C is a very insightful description of the mess that greeted 54 employees of Newfoundland Power, their spouses and children Saturday June 6. That was the day chosen to exercise our civic responsibility and attempt to undertake a roadside cleanup on the highway commonly referred to as the New Harbour Barrens.
For anyone not familiar with the term, it is the approximately 18-kilometre stretch of mostly broken, suspension breaking, pavement running between Tilton in Conception Bay North and the Trinity shore highway near New Harbour.
This roadway was chosen to be the benefactor of our volunteer effort because of the central location between our area office in Carbonear and our district office in Whitbourne.
As with most successful undertakings, it started with the inspiration of one person, Sandra Reynolds, who plants the seed of an idea, germinates the seed with the rain of communication and watches the plant grow into a large fully supported volunteer effort by 54 civic minded individuals.
On that day we harvested the crop from the ditches of the New Harbour Barrens road. Unfortunately the crop was over 200 garbage bags full of definition (C) - Trash, wastepaper and garbage. In addition there were several truckloads of miscellaneous items including tires, an automobile gas tank, children’s toys, pieces of carpet, stove pipes, and the list goes on.
This was a 100 per cent volunteer effort on behalf of the employees of Newfoundland Power. Not one person received any monetary compensation for giving up most of their day off on Saturday. Newfoundland Power fully supported the effort by providing pickup trucks for trash collection, and orange safety vests. Lynn Priddle, one of the volunteers, prepared a rough grub lunch of beans and bologna.
It was very rewarding to see such an enthusiastic group of people doing something worthwhile for the community.
During a quick drive over this road much of this trash is not noticeable. However when one stops and ventures into the ditches to get, as Bill Rowe once said, “a worms eye view”, it becomes apparent that there is a lot of trash carelessly thrown from passing vehicles.
Why do people do this? I believe Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in general are very proud of their province, and most people tend to take very good care of their personal property.
Yet it seems there is an attitude among a certain group of society that seems to indicate many people have the idea it’s okay to throw trash out the window, as long as it’s not in my own backyard. Hopefully this attitude is prevalent in a small minority.
Quite a bit of this trash was packaging from fast food outlets and coffee shops. Some people would say these businesses should pay to have this stuff cleaned up. I disagree totally with that notion. I think it would be unfair to expect the businesses to be responsible for the thoughtless actions of their customers. Even if that suggestion were ever implemented, the cost would undoubtedly be passed along to the consumer anyway. Do you really want to pay more for your morning double double or noontime hamburger to compensate the business for cleaning up the garbage thrown out by the slob in the car behind you in the drive-thru? I think not.
What is needed is a change in attitude among many people. We have to make it socially unacceptable to litter.
Just as smoking has become a no no to most of society we have to get the message out that litter is destroying our beautiful province. Tourism is a very important industry to this province. We have to compete with many other destinations to attract visitors to the province. We may have great natural scenery, but it can be greatly diminished in value by indiscriminate littering.
Anyone who has ever visited Prince Edward Island would certainly have noticed how clean everything is there. You would be hard pressed to find a gum wrapper on the roadways.
Unfortunately on this day we were unable to clean the entire 18 kilometres of roadway. We estimate that about 75 per cent of the distance was cleaned. At another time we will make another assault on the barrens. In the meantime, lets all try to put litter in its rightful place, a garbage can.
Spouses and children joined Newfoundland Power employees June 6 to help clean up New Harbour Barrens.