Mallori Llewelyn has a message for motorists who continue to litter a roadside in Debert with garbage.
“They need to keep it in their car and then throw it out when they get home,” said Llewelyn, a member of the Onslow-Belmont 4-H Club.
Llewelyn was one of 15 people who participated in a roadside cleanup on May 7 along MacElmon Road. In addition to the 4-H club, members of the Lower Onslow Community Centre and Onslow-Belmont Fire Brigade spent close to three hours cleaning the stretch of road from the Debert overpass on Highway 104 to the intersection of MacElmon Road and Highway 2.
“It’s been a ‘whoa’ moment for us,” said Llewelyn, glancing at a garbage in her hand that’s quickly filling up. “It’s hard to believe people can just litter, destroying the world without thinking twice about it.”
Taylor Dickson, who is also a member of the Onslow-Belmont 4-H Club, says the group picked up a variety of things including some unexpected items.
“We found a pile of clam shells, used motor oil, a lock, screw drivers, tires, and laundry detergent and then the more expected things like food wrappers, cups and more,” said Dickson, adding she was quick to volunteer when hearing about the cleanup efforts. “I really enjoy nature so it’s a little frustrating to see all of this stuff that people have just thrown out of their cars.”
The roadside cleanup was organized by the Lower Onslow Community Centre. County Councillor Doug McInnis is president of the group.
He says the section of road is one of the trouble spots for littering in the area.
“It’s a mess. It’s a real mess,” said McInnis. “This is a heavily littered roadway. It’s reached a point where a resident had to put up a sign near MacElmon’s Pond in regards to people throwing out their trash. But the truth is, you can go just about anywhere in this county and find a road with a lot of garbage just like this one.”
The volunteers were broken into two groups with each covering one side of the road. By noon, they had covered all but 50-feet on each side.
During the clean-up, McInnis says they received positive comments and lots of beeps from people driving by.
“Someone said to me the other day, if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change,” he said. “We figured that if we get out here and people see us doing this, maybe they’ll change the way they think and they’ll quit throwing garbage in the ditches.”
Littering has been a hot topic for municipal council. McInnis says they’ve spoken with RCMP about enforcement options and discussed different initiatives in an effort to bring the issue to the forefront.
Once littering is brought to the forefront, McInnis says they need to work to keep it there.
“We have to looks at it the same way we would drinking and driving,” he said. “It’s an issue that constantly receives attention and rightfully so. As a result, it’s at the front of people’s minds and we need to start approaching littering in the same way. It’s a real issue and if we can start holding people accountable for their actions, I believe we will see a decrease.”
Jennifer McKay is with the Lower Onslow Community Centre. She says it was great to see so many people step forward and volunteer their time to help clean up part of the community.
“Everyone really came together and worked hard,” she said. “It’s not the most exciting thing to do. But it shows that each person here is dedicated to making their community better. It was especially nice to see the youth coming out. They were just as excited to get involved.”
“The youth aren’t the one’s making this mess. It’s not kids throwing the garbage out the windows of a car. The majority of the time it’s adults,” he said. “That’s what has to stop.
The kids are learning that this isn’t right while they’re in school so now it’s time for the adults to learn. They think there is no harm in throwing out a piece of garbage but when 50 other people are doing the same thing on the same stretch of highway, you start seeing a mess like the one we’re trying to clean up.”
Following the clean-up, the volunteers went back to the Lower Onslow Community Centre for a barbecue.