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Campus volunteers pitch in for spring litter cleanup

CLEANING UP: Students (from left) Bhavika Gobin and Jennifer Gordon are among the volunteers who came out for the 20-Minute Makeover and litter pickup at U of T Scarborough. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

by Mary Ann Gratton

A warm and sunny day in April drew dozens of volunteers outside to participate in an outdoor spring cleaning and litter pickup event at U of T Scarborough campus recently.

More than 40 people – students, staff and faculty – came out to participate in the 20-Minute Makeover at U of T Scarborough campus on April 24. It was part of the same initiative endorsed by the City of Toronto, with events organized across the city during Earth Week 2009. At U of T Scarborough, everyone was invited to come out and give a little bit of their time to tidy up the campus. More than 10 bags of trash were collected in total, along with hundreds of cigarette butts, large pieces of garbage and even an abandoned shopping cart. To view more photos, click here.

“I see a lot of garbage when I’m walking home, and so I thought it would be good for me to come out and help clean up,” said Bhavika Gobin, a fourth-year double major in political science and human geography.

“Litter is very visible, and it’s the first thing people think about when they think of pollution,” said Jennifer Gordon, a third-year environmental science student who volunteered. “I like to take every opportunity to help out on campus with environmental initiatives such as tree plantings or litter cleanup. Environmental science is my major and I believe that everything we do relates to the environment. It feels good to be out here working with others, and the nice weather helps too.”

“It’s important for the image of our campus to get rid of litter and it looks good when everything is clean,” said Harry Zheng, a fourth-year environmental science student. “I’m done my exams so I thought I would come and help.”

Staff members Devon Evershed and Donna Carvalhal from the Physical Education & Athletics Department said they wanted to participate in a good cause. “This event helps the environment, and giving 20 minutes of our time is not that much to help out,” said Evershed.

“It’s fun and it’s rewarding,” said Carvalhal. “The next time we walk by this spot we’ll look at it differently knowing that we helped to clean it up, and I think it’s a good message to the community and we’re setting a good example by doing this.”

Tim Lang, sustainability coordinator at U of T Scarborough, said the campus participation in a city-wide initiative is a valuable way for the campus community to demonstrate our commitment to the environment in concert with the city and other partners.

“Trash is pollution, and we’re trying to reduce pollution and educate people,” said Lang. “It’s good for people to see a nicely maintained campus that's clean and litter free. Not only is it important from an aesthetic point of view, but litter is also harmful to animals and their health and it can also run into streams, which can damage aquatic ecosystems. So this activity has many benefits all around.”




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