Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sand Gets Everywhere, But So Does Trash

Somewhere between the beginning of the HNRS 1200 course and the first week of April, I forgot exactly when we would attend the very much discussed FOLAR clean-up event. I had my heart set on potentially attending the March for Science and somehow managed to consistently disregard both the date set on the syllabus for the clean-up and the proposed date for the March for Science. And so it happened that sometime during the beginning of April, I realized that one of the two would have to go. Given that the two events fell on Earth Day, it made sense to me that I should pick the one that would allow me to more actively help the environment. I prepared for the event with great excitement, though a little nervous for what was to come and rather unsure of what to expect.

Upon arriving, the site was nothing like what I had expected. I thought that the area would be more green, but the shrubbery was incredibly underwhelming. What welcomed me instead was dry dirt and sand, plenty of which was kicked up into the air as we walked around. Nor was the river quite as small as I thought it would be prior to the event. Looking down at the river, my fear of heights kicked in and I nearly resigned myself to a fate of picking up the trash along the path while my friends had fun picking up trash together before I finally figured out a way to slowly make my way down to the river. I picked up trash with as much enthusiasm as anyone there--well, I tried to. It definitely did not help that so many pieces of trash were stuck deep in the sand and that the plastic bags caught in the bushes broke off easily, but I gave it my best effort.

After two long hours of navigating unsteady rocks, picking up trash with my friends, and avoiding the occasional wasp, it was finally time to leave. I felt relieved to be out of the hot sun, but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy cleaning up the river. In spite of some of the difficulties I encountered, the clean-up was actually quite fun, and it was exhilarating just knowing that I was doing something to directly contribute to a much larger effort to save our river, rather than simply marching. Lungs full of dust, I headed home, exhausted but feeling good about doing something to make the L.A. River just a little cleaner.

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