Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
Soggy trash – it weighs more than dry trash, you know. That was part of the day’s lesson for approximately 300 volunteers who participated in the 21st annual Trinity Trash Bash on Sep. 29. More than 200 adults and 66 youth volunteers spent a rainy morning donating 900 volunteer hours while collecting a total of 4,540 pounds of trash.
They were joining Keep Irving Beautiful to honor National Lands Day, the nation’s largest single-day volunteering event to focus attention on the stewardship of public lands. Groups were marshaled for both ground and water assaults as they fanned out across the soccer fields adjacent to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.
“The overall theme of our event is to protect our Trinity River,” said event coordinator Rick Hose of Keep Irving Beautiful. “It’s very heartwarming to see Irving citizens responding on a day when it could have been easy to just pack up and go home. Our community cares about the environment and we want to make the area as beautiful as possible.
“This area gets trash from other areas. A lot of it is generated offsite and when it rains, creeks bring it in, almost like we’re downhill. So it’s a good location for us to concentrate on.”
Businesspeople, Scouts and citizens – the volunteers came from all walks of life, many drawn by an email blast from Renee Shippey of event partner REI.
“We had 65,000 people on the lists, so we sent the word out to all of them,” Shippey said.
Other volunteers responded to flyers at their schools, seeing a fun way to earn service credits. That was the case for two students from Northlake College, and for a trio of seniors from MacArthur High School who slipped into personal flotation devices as staff from event partner Kayak Power quizzed them on their kayaking skills. Fourty individuals were okayed to pull trash from the water after Keep Irving Beautiful leaders determined that there was no danger from lightning, flooding – or inexperience.
Among the kayakers were Irving City Councilman Gerald Faris and his wife, Karen, who was pretty sore the following day.
“I had been in a canoe before,” said Councilman Faris. “But reaching for trash from a kayak – that was a challenge. It’s not easy to reach out for something and drag it back. You can’t get leverage, so we’d try to hold onto something.
“We found mostly water bottles, plastic bags and so forth. Clothes, too. There was a large car part suspended in a tree, and stuff that had been almost buried for years.
“A group like Keep Irving Beautiful really adds to the manpower to be able to clean up an area that’s so vast. Otherwise it would be an overwhelming task for city employees.”
Hose pointed to another bonus on the day. The group had collected 620 pounds of recycle material.
“That is material that is diverted away from the landfill,” he explained. “It goes straight into the recycling center, so that’s a double-goodie.”