Cigarette butts were the most numerous, but plastic bags and wrappers made up the bulk of garbage picked up yesterday by dozens of volunteers along the Ottawa River shoreline.
The mix also included single-use water bottles, their caps, beer bottles, wine bottles, coffee cups, rope, diapers, styrofoam, candy wrappers, two bicycles, a couple of tires, used firecrackers, syringes, a dead seagull, a sign and a strange large plastic object bobbing just offshore that could have been a bleached traffic cone.
“If anyone did an archeological dig, they’d find Ottawa people ate nothing but junk food and drank nothing but liquor,” said Phil Cutfield, wearing work gloves and carrying two garbage bags – one for recyclables and the other for trash. “It boggles the mind how much would accumulate (if no one cleaned up each spring).”
Delphine Hasle, outreach director for Ottawa Riverkeeper, which organized the Ontario-side cleanup, said more garbage was picked up this year than last, although the amount varies depending on the water level, which is high this year.
However volunteers were surprised they didn’t find more than they did.
“It’s not nearly as bad as what I expected,” said Judy Toombs, who volunteered along with a group from Adobe Systems, where she works. “Maybe that’s a sad comment, that I expected more.”
“I think we were surprised we didn’t find a whole lot more,” said Paul Hubley, who volunteered with co-workers Kelsa Staffa, Keith Brown and Craig Beaton from Terrapex Environmental Ltd., an environmental remediation firm.
“We had to work for this,” he said, indicating several bags that were not quite full.
“Thanks for cleaning,” a jogger called out to the Terrapex group.
Cutfield encouraged Metro readers to recycle their newspaper so it doesn’t end up blowing into the river.