Green Pages Published: February 5. 2009 12:00AM
KBB continues to clean-up when others won't

By Tricia Walters

Sign of the times: At least once a month volunteers with Keep Bermuda Beautiful take to a quiet neighbourhood to collect the items carelessly discarded.
Former Premier, David Saul worked out that most of the empty cans and bottles were thrown at least five steps from the road. "They must have thought if they threw it far enough into the undergrowth then it would be a matter of out of sight, out of mind," he told Green Pages.
Too many litterbugs: Dr. Eugene Harvey, a KBB volunteer, makes his way slowly up Devon Spring Road collecting the litter that passing pedestrians and motorits have discarded - without a second thought for the environment, or the people who live in the area. A few years ago Dr. Harvey found a body, but that's another story.
What a waste: As if plucked from The Barn's collection bin and dragged into the bushes to be ransacked and dumped, this pile of clothing was found dumped in a pile within plain site of The Barn.
Where no man has gone before: KBB volunteer, George Cook, makes his way through the thick undergrowth along Devon Spring Road in search of garbage that would have been thrown from a passing car. And his efforts weren't in vain.

It's early on a Saturday morning and a group of 25 Keep Bermuda Beautiful (KBB) volunteers stand along Devon Springs Road wiping the sleep from their eyes as they prepare to spend the next three hours collecting litter from the area.

The first point of collection is an area that's used by pedestrians and cyclists as a shortcut between Green Acres Road and Devon Spring Road. It's within spitting distance of The Barn, and finding large piles of clothing in the bushes isn't surprising. It's as if they were taken from the collection bins, dragged into the bushes and ransacked for whatever seemed useful, before being abandoned as a soggy and smelly pile.

Besides the clothing, volunteers also find hundreds of empty cans, beer and Vodka bottles, motorcycle parts, styrofoam food containers, plastic bags, newspapers, cigarette boxes, empty lighters and even a pair of mismatched shoes.

Most of the 25 volunteers are children completing their community volunteer services, but it's not unusual to find them accompanied by their parents.

One young mother has joined her daughters for this particular clean up and tells The Green Pages: "It's my first time on a cleanup and I can't believe what people throw away."

Meanwhile, in front of the Devon Springs Apartments, Saltus students Matthew Witkowski and Michael Mello have stumbled across the remains of two motor cycles. "Probably stolen," Matthew points out as he and Michael drag the parts to the road where they'll be collected along with about ten garbage bags popping at the seams.

The two signed up with KBB in 2006 to complete their volunteer service with the Duke of Edinburgh Programme. And even though they don't need to volunteer anymore, they give up one Saturday a month to participate in KBB clean ups all over the Island.

"In fact our first clean up was of this same area in 2006," the boys recall with broad smiles. "You should have seen it back then! Now we volunteer for ourselves because it's fun and we enjoy it. It's very satisfying work."

The boys agree that the most disgusting thing they've ever found was a dead dog dumped in a Trimingham's bag. "But Dr. Harvey (Eugene Harvey) once found a body. That would have to be the worst thing," Michael adds.

When asked if anyone from the neighbourhood they're cleaning ever thanks them, the volunteers shake their heads. "Hardly ever," one replies. If anything during this particular clean up on Devon Springs Road, motorists hardly slow down as they wiz past volunteers, who find themselves ducking out of the way.

A few pedestrians say "good morning" but that's the extent of conversation and not one offers to grab a bag and help out. In fact it's this lack of interest from residents that KBB President Susan Harvey would like to see change.

"I sent out 138 postcards to residents of the area, but they might not have got them on time," she explains. "I would love to see the people in the communities where we do cleanups come out and help and show an interest and pride in their personal environment. I am not sure we've got to that stage yet."

Mrs. Harvey adds that she would love to see Government leaders join in cleanups and show people that it's "OK to get out and look after your space".

As for continued dumping, Mrs. Harvey believes people will go the extra mile to use a bin if one is available and is working on getting more bins distributed across the Island. "I see people in Hamilton who will walk the extra 20 yards to go to a bin than drop it on the ground," she says.

"We also need enforceable litter legislation," she elaborates. "That's beginning to happen. Not just legislation to ticket people who litter, but we desperately need to catch the dumpers (truckers who dump) and prosecute them."

During the January 24th clean up, 108 bags of garbage were collected. This included 57 black refuse bags and 51 blue recycling bags at an estimated weight of 1,900 pounds. This does not include the bulky waste like the abandoned motorcycles. But according to KBB stats, close to 12,000 individuals items were collected by volunteers.

KBB is launching its first ever Walk and Work on April 18 from St. George's to Ferry Reach when you can combine exercise with litter collection. For more information contact KBB at 295-5142, 799-5142 or visit their site on Facebook.

See the original article in The Royal Gazette