United effort to keep our town tidy

When colleague Adele Steck first touted the idea of a clean-up around the Port Alfred Duck Pond, I admit I was sceptical.

The idea originated when, during a Tittle Tattle Live broadcast at the robots, I noted the amount of litter on the edges of the Duck Pond at low tide, a blight on the green area which serves as a bird sanctuary.

A JOB WELL DONE: About 20 local residents joined Talk of the Town staff for a cleanup of the Port Alfred Duck Pond last Saturday. Sunshine Spar provided black refuse bags, Leach Pharmacy provided sanitary gloves, Outdoor Focus supplied a canoe, and The Water Bar sponsored water for the participants. The thorough cleanup saw a couple of dozen refuse bags filled with all manner of trash littering the edges of the Duck Pond, including numerous glass bottles, plastic bottles, bottle tops, plastic cigarette box wrapping, thousands of sweet wrappers and even a discarded car bumper. Going out on the canoe, Renae Purdon from Outdoor Focus with the help of Matthew Steck gathered litter floating on the pond surface and among the reeds. Ndlambe Municipality picked up the collected rubbish. Not all volunteers were present for the photo Picture: ROB KNOWLES

So energetic Adele suggested a clean-up, and like many people, my initial response was that it’s something the municipality should be doing, and indeed we have seen a lone municipal cleaner picking up litter with a spiked stick on the banks of the Duck Pond. But he is a rare sight, and he barely scratches the surface of the filth littering the pond.

So there is a point to a community initiative like this, when the authorities fail.

Still, I wondered how we would get our own colleagues to participate, let alone draw members of the community to join in. I said I would take part if she was able to get 10 “righteous” people to show up.

But Adele was convincing, practicing her persistent positive persuasion skills, and we ended up with more than twice that number last Saturday.

Everyone got stuck in, carrying refuse bags supplied by Sunshine Spar and wearing sanitary gloves supplied by Leach Pharmacy. Most fanned out in different directions on the edges of the Duck Pond, and easily came across a variety of litter, from discarded chicken bones to myriad bits of plastic and cigarette butts.

I squeezed into Adele’s green gardening wellies and waded through the shallows on the edges of the Duck Pond to get to litter lying on the mud.

Plastic straws are considered to be a particularly vexing item that ends up as litter, but I actually came across very few of those. Most of what I found were the tiny plastic wrappers from complimentary sweets handed out by restaurants. There seemed to be thousands of them. I appeal to local restaurants: please stop this practice.

I also picked up plastic bottles, loads of bottle tops and lots of glass bottles, especially on the island on the east side of the Duck Pond. Also strange items like a car spring and carpeting. Someone even came across a discarded car bumper!

We thank everyone who took part and helped clean our town in some small measure.

It was discouraging to see people actually dropping litter in front of our eyes as we were cleaning up. A sad indictment of the complete disregard, laziness and selfishness of some people.

– Jon Houzet

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