While most of us were enjoying a relaxing spring break with our families or on a beach somewhere, a group of HWS students chose to take their spring break to volunteer. I was catching up with a friend last night that participated on an alternative spring break to Tennessee to clean up a section of the Mississippi river. They worked with a group called Living Lands and Waters, this organization is headed by Chad Pregracke (who came to HWS a few years back to give a presentation to students) and its sole mission is to clean up the river and its tributaries, one piece of trash at a time.
As my friend was telling me about the trip and showing me pictures I was shocked at the vast amounts of trash they encountered. As you can see from the photos above...it is pretty appalling. There was trash so thick, she said, that you couldn't see the surface of the water. They pulled water bottles, paint cans, old fridges, tires, milk crates, toys and a whole list of other junk from the river and a nearby lake. She told me the progress was slow, that this organization would work for months at the same location and return the next year to conditions that were just as bad. I found it hard to believe that there was still this kind of pollution in our country, I'd never seen anything like it. My friend explained that the surrounding towns didn't have regular trash pick-up so most household trash was dumped or left out to be flooded into the river later.