Letter: Earth Day clean up a big success

Shawnigan, you are truly blessed to have such helpers in your midst

Earth Day clean up a big success

It starts with you!

“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” — Mr. Fred Rogers, sharing his mother’s wisdom

It feels so good to be able to DO something. In spite of a pandemic and stay home orders — and perhaps, because of them — we are more aware than ever of the state of our lives and our surroundings. What a gift it has been to enjoy our natural spaces! Yet where people have been, litter inevitably follows. This Earth Week, #TLCShawnigan2021, many hands and caring hearts are what it took to “Clean Where We Are” successfully — together — apart!

We were not alone. From Shawnigan to Chemainus, all over the Cowichan Valley Regional District, a number of community leaders came together under the umbrella of the Cowichan Valley Clean Up Effort Facebook Group, to compare notes and discuss our options for having maximum impact on the problem of abandoned garbage in our environment. We assembled our teams of partners and who would be where over the course of three days, Thursday, April 22 to Saturday, April 24.

Ben Riel, Casey Cook and Shayne Gavin from Shawnigan’s own Relax Collective, together with Ali Davie of Volunteer Cowichan, Holly Ellison of Youth 20/20 Can Cowichan and Katia Bannister of the Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians assembled at a number of locations along Renfrew Road and throughout our community on April 24. This rain-soaked crew fearlessly tackled some overgrown and challenging spots, gladly practicing ecological restoration like it was an extreme sport! They also picked up bags of roadside trash collected by Litter Watch volunteers in support of the Shawnigan Rotary EcoClub’s new adopt-a-neighbourhood program. An outstanding 837lbs from our area was hauled to Bing’s Creek Depot under the #CleanCowichan2021 Tipping Exemption community clean up event permit!

Our Litter Heroes Honours continue with Shawnigan Lake School, who this year went totally above and beyond their campus to cover an amazing amount of ground over the course of Thursday’s Earth Day. Perhaps you saw them ranging eco-purposefully in their bright House shirts? They too did some extreme debris manoeuvring! We are so thankful that Fisher Road Recycling/DL Bins came to the rescue with a bin drop for the junk that had been clogging up and destroying the beauty of the area along Thain Road. It was truly astounding what the work of 550 students and staff found and removed! The 1,240kg of litter for sorting, waste diversion and disposal was generously covered by Spencer Atkinson and team at the Fisher Road depot with our heartfelt thanks!

There are also the numerous residents and entire families who deserve our gratitude for taking on Litter-Picking as a lifestyle, and not only is it a great form of exercise and bonding, but motivation to put a little extra purpose in our stride! Let the selfless actions of the many outweigh the carelessness and callousness of a few. Your photos and stories continue to inspire others to be better and do better.

Shawnigan, you are truly blessed to have such helpers in your midst!

Kim Barnard

Shawnigan Rotary EcoClub