Photo courtesy of Wild Magick Woman via Facebook.

A local woman has issued a note of thanks to those who came out to help clean up the Sydenham River earlier this month. Almost 600 pounds of garbage and recyclables were pulled from the river on October 3rd and delivered to the Wallaceburg Transfer Station. 

We live in an astoundingly beautiful country filled with some wonderful caring people. I am writing today to extend my sincere Thank Yous to everyone who spread the word, supported, and attended the October 3 Sydenham River Clean Up. The day began with a chill in the air and finished with summer-like warmth. A team of water-loving, community minded people gathered to do a dirty job. Some came in kayaks, some came on foot, others came in vehicles – but they all pitched in and picked up filthy, sometimes rotting, garbage and recyclables. It was not pretty work, or easy work, but it was important work. How many lives of water- living or water dependent creatures were spared by these actions? I don’t know and cannot estimate, but I do know that together we removed close to 600 pounds of crap from the river and shorelines. If you do a quick search online you will find many articles about the dangers of garbage to wildlife like the one published by the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Preservation titled “Wildlife and Litter Don’t Mix” and you will see too many videos of injured and dead wildlife strangled by our littered human stuff. We put a dent in the garbage that is in the Sydenham, but there is much more to do. We can urge the provincial and federal governments to tighten up legislation surrounding single use plastics and other disposable products. But more importantly and directly we can stop buying them, or at least minimize our purchases of them and responsibly recycle them. Just last week Ocean Canada released these statistics:

*Canada uses 4.6 million metric tonnes of plastics every year — roughly 125 kilograms per person — and that number is predicted to grow to more than six million metric tonnes by 2030.

*Global comparisons show that Canada produces nine times more plastic waste per person than India, up to 3.6 times more than some countries in Southeast Asia and up to twice that of some Scandinavian countries.

*Each year, approximately 70% of the plastic we consume – 3.3 million tonnes – is thrown in the trash. Approximately half of that is from single-use packaging.

*Recycling is not a viable solution. Only 9 % of plastic has been recycled. Eighty-seven per cent of the plastic waste we think is being recycled, ends up in landfills and the environment.

*Canada has exported roughly four million tonnes of plastic waste over the last 30 years – the weight of about 800 blue whales worth of plastic per year – mostly to Asian countries that are ill-equipped to handle it and which are now refusing to accept more.

(From : )

No one will become rich or famous from the work that we did and continue to do. I am sure there were much more entertaining things that the participants could have done on Saturday October 3. And I am also certain that we did make a difference. Some of us had fun and met new people who also care about nature that sustains us. I know that I was energized and supported to do this work on that day, and I continue to find that same kind of experience every time I head out on the water. I know that other participants were grateful to have the opportunity to be purposeful and be a part of a team effort to improve their community, and yet others had their eyes opened to how much garbage floats in our nearby waters.

Overall, it was a successful event and I want to Thank each and everyone who helped in whatever ways they could, and I look forward to organizing more events like this. I also want to Thank all the media outlets who helped to spread the word and who shared news of the event afterwards. I want to Thank the Municipality of Chatham-Kent for accepting the garbage and recyclables free of charge at the Wallaceburg Transfer Station. And I Thank all my family and friends who support me and cheer me on to be the change that I can be.

With Much Gratitude,
Sally Joyce