Residents tackle litter problem through Facebook

Derek Montague
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‘One bag challenge’ has Happy Valley-Goose Bay looking cleaner

Dakota Penney, a member of the Sparks unit in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, picks up a piece of litter.

Hollis Yetman was sick and tired of seeing the amount of litter around his neighbourhood and the rest of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Ever since the snow melted, following a long winter, the disgusting mess of junk and trash seemed like a bigger problem than ever before.

“On the streets leaving Spruce Park, I noticed on the edge of the woods, tangled up in the willows, there was loads of litter, loads of trash,” said Yetman. “I just got tired of driving by it.”

Yetman was so tired of seeing the trash, he decided to do something about it, rather than wait for the town council to hire a spring clean-up crew.

“This is our stuff. This is our crap that’s blowing around. So I just felt like I needed to clean up the street that I was driving on to go to work everyday.”

During the middle of May, Yetman spent a few evenings collecting several bags of garbage. Then, he wanted to encourage others in the community to get involved. So Yetman posted a “one bag challenge” on Facebook. He asked people to pick up at least one bag of litter somewhere in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and share it on Facebook when they were done.

“I’m hoping that people can go out for half-an-hour, that’s all it takes; I know from the amount of garbage I picked up,” said Yetman. “In half-an-hour you can have a bag of garbage picked up just like that.”

The one bag challenge has certainly caught on with some individuals and groups in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. On the evening of May 20, a group of young girls who are park of the local Sparks unit cleaned up nine bags of trash.

“I like teaching the children to clean up, so when they get older they know not to litter,” said Sparks leader Jill Elson.

“I seen the challenge on Facebook, I believe Hollis Yetman had it on … so I thought it would be a good idea for our Sparks to do it too.”

Even the town’s mayor, Jamie Snook, has gotten involved in the challenge. After being inspired by Yetman’s initiative, Snook and his son Jaiden cleaned up some trails behind Kelland Drive.

“Personally, I’m always disappointed to see any litter, anywhere,” said Snook.

“I don’t really feel that it’s socially acceptable anymore. It’s something all of us need to take ownership of, and we really need to think about what we’re doing.”

Snook and Jaiden found a variety of junk, such as an old barbecue and a car seat. The next time they go into the area, they’re hoping to haul out a discarded toilet that was left behind.

According to the mayor, Happy Valley-Goose Bay should be looking a lot cleaner soon. The cleanup crew the town hires every spring will start in the first week of June this year.

While Yetman encourages people to react and take action to the litter around town, he’s hoping that more proactive approaches will be taken in the future. The thing that really irks Yetman is the big pieces of junk that flies out of people’s uncovered pickup trucks.

“I can tell some of the litter is stuff thrown out, like fast food garbage and cigarette packs … but there’s stuff that’s blown out of vehicles: the big plastics, the garbage bags full of stuff,” said Yetman.

“I’d like the town to start enforcing their bylaw of covered garbage. If we’re going to do their part, I want them to do their part.”

Yetman is also asking local businesses to do their part by putting more garbage cans in front of their establishments, especially the stores that sell food and beverages.

“What’s the harm? Cut the top off a 45-gallon drum and put an industrial sized garbage bag,” said Yetman. “It’ll save you from cleaning up around your business.”

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Spruce Park

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