Volunteers fanned parks, canal trails, and other waterways from New Brunswick to Trenton for the Watershed Institute’s 15th year of Stream Cleanups, a traditional rite of spring!
Over the two weekends of April 17 & 24, about 825 volunteers cleared away 6,000 pounds of trash from all 13 events.
From Girl Scouts to retirees, about 110 volunteers hauled large tires, plastic, glass, bottles, candy wrappers, and even a cow statue out of Grover Park in Princeton. Working in safe, socially distanced areas near streams and woods, they removed 1,694 pounds of trash from the park.
In locations spanning from Millstone to Ewing, Watershed staff and volunteers worked in concert with town officials, public works departments, elected officials, environmental commissioners, and more. The goal was to beautify the region’s waterways and open spaces.
“When participating in stream cleanups sponsored by The Watershed Institute, together we help care for water — the essence of life. What a wonderful way to celebrate Earth Day,” said Tammy L. Sands, Chair of the Princeton Environmental Commission.
Haley Conway was one of about 10 students from the engineering fraternity Theta Tau at The College of New Jersey who wanted to do something positive for the environment. She said several of her coed fraternity members intend to do more service activities by participating in the April 24 stream cleanups in Lawrence and Ewing.
“We thought it would be important to contribute to the good karma for the environment,” she said. “We found a lot of glass and small pieces of plastic, which is troubling given the micro-plastics concerns and the fact that this type of litter is easy to overlook.”
Ashley Chen and Bella Lependorf, who co-founded the World Wildlife Fund Club at Princeton High School this year, said the Grover Park cleanup was a chance for the club members to meet in person instead of solely on Zoom.
“We are focused on two missions in our club – education and taking action in our community. We saw this as a perfect opportunity to get involved on the local level,” said Bella, 16.
Added Ashley, 16, said their group unearthed many items, including baseballs, a plastic toy shovel, and a sock. Their most unusual trash discovery was a cow statue that they pulled from the woods. The statue was taken home later by an artist from Langhorne, Penn., who will upcycle it into a new creation.
Spanish teacher Maribelle Robinson, who is the club facilitator, said the club has helped build park benches in Cranbury Township and will assist Sustainable Princeton with a May recycling event.
“When we first came, we thought the park looked clean, but once you got into the woods there was a lot there,” she said.
Members of three Girl Scout troops #70636, #70344 and #70212 ran around the park and pulled out candy wrappers, bottles and other debris. Asked why they were here, they replied:
“We’re here for the trash!”
Stream cleanups are scheduled for Saturday, April 24 in East Windsor, Ewing, two Lawrence locations, Monroe, Montgomery, and Trenton.