By: Grace O'Malley, Angelika Kyrkos, Emily Pinto, and Ahjunae Williams
The Norwalk River Watershed Association (NRWA), a non-profit Norwalk organization, held their annual river clean cleanup at Heritage Park in SoNo on September 16th. Over 80 volunteers showed up throughout the morning, ages ranging from 5 to 73, and they collected all kinds of plastic and glass products.
Louise Washer, the president of the NRWA, handed out plastic bags, trash grabbers, and gloves to all the volunteers while simultaneously giving pamphlets about the program and the effects of plastic on our environment. The goal of the cleanup is to “catch the stuff (plastic) before it goes into the Long Island Sound,” said Washer.
Volunteers walked alongside the shore of the Norwalk River, wearing thick pants and high rainboots. One of the many young volunteers, Mallory, said that the reason why her and her friend came out today was due to her “love of the environment, and how it’s sad that is being treated so horribly.”
After the event, the NRWA tallies all the trash collected and weighs it, and then sends it back to the Ocean Conservancy, who do an annual census of all the trash collected around the world. Last year, in Connecticut, 1,554 volunteers picked up 8,756 lbs of trash along the 69 miles of waterfront. Worldwide, the volunteers collected 210 million lbs of trash from 390,000 miles of shoreline. This year, Norwalk removed over 1,000 pounds of trash from the Norwalk River!
Throwing out garbage doesn’t mean it is gone, on average plastic products take between 500 to 1,000 years to decompose. This means that the plastic bottle you throw out tomorrow will affect your great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren. The plastic that ends up in the ocean also affects animals- 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die annually due to plastic consumption. It also affects our health as well, since 93% of Americans age 6 and up test positive for BPA. These facts are that motivates the NRWA and the Ocean Conservancy to hold volunteer cleanups around the world.
So what can Norwalk do to prevent so much plastic ending up in our waters? “I think we (Norwalk) need to move towards a plastic bottle ban,” concludes Washer. San Francisco, Concord, and even Paris have become the first cities to ban plastic water bottles, and so far, they have been successful with their efforts. Hopefully in the future Norwalk can follow in the footsteps of other cities and turn our city ‘green’.