By Heather Regula, Correspondent
Envirobuzz, a grass roots cleanup movement orchestrated by Kailey Hartwig, held a trash clean-up party at Chalk Ridge Falls Park in Belton, on Saturday, July 29. Approximately fifteen people of all ages attended, donned gloves, and set to work picking up litter along the trail. The volunteers worked for one hour, covered approximately one mile of trail, and filled 12 bags with discarded trash.
The message “don’t be a litterbug” seems so basic and easy to follow, but sadly litter continues to be a significant problem in Texas. Don’t Mess With Texas reports that roughly 435 million pieces of litter accumulates on our roads annually. As evidenced by the 12 bags of litter the Envirobuzz volunteers picked up on Saturday, litter is a problem in our parks and on our trails as well. Littering is punishable by a $500 fine and a $2,000 fine if the litter weighs more than five pounds. Don’t Mess With Texas further suggests that “…if every person in Texas picked up just two pieces of trash every month, our highways would be completely litter-free in just one year.”
Mary Hunt, an avid hiker, showed up Saturday to help out.
“I belong to a local hiking club, and Chalk Ridge Falls is one of our favorite hiking spots. We are out here often and see trash on the trails all the time,” said Hunt. “Many of the trails aren’t accessible by a vehicle, so there is no way for a truck to come in and take gathered trash out. That puts the responsibility on the people going into the park – any trash they bring in has to be packed out.”
Dirty diapers, pizza boxes, water bottles, cigarette butts, and other common forms of litter filled the 12 garbage bags the volunteers filled during the trash clean up party.
“We have picked up a sharp knife, broken glass, torn cans and other sharp things. These items are dangerous, in addition to being harmful to the environment,” said Jordan Hartwig.
Haley Regula was part of Saturday’s group of volunteers.
“I love Chalk Ridge Falls, and we got a nice hike in today. We picked up a lot of trash – way more than I expected to. I’ve never really noticed how much litter there is here,” said Regula.
Litter cleanup was a family affair for LaChelle Acosta, her husband Art, and their two children – Aralina (7) and Miles (4).
“My family loves Chalk Ridge Falls, and we were excited to help clean up one of our favorite places. Community service is super important to us – we enjoy giving back – so this was a great family event for us to participate in,” said Acosta.
Tosha Smith, of Morgans Point, came across this event on Facebook and decided it would be a great opportunity for her and Quinn (4) to get involved.
“My husband is a fishing guide, and he is out fishing today. I decided to bring Quinn here so that we could spend some time outside while helping the environment,” said Smith.
Interest in the litter pickup spread as the volunteer group made its way along the trail. Families and individuals already enjoying the part stopped what they were doing, cleaned up their immediate area, and handed litter to the volunteers. Some hikers stopped to talk about the cause and ask how to get involved in future cleanup activities. The response from people already in the area was favorable and encouraging.
“The Belton Rocks Facebook movement has motivated me – it’s so cool to see people painting rocks, leaving encouraging words for others, and posting their activity on social media,” said Hartwig. “My husband and I thought that if a community can be so enthusiastic about the finding and placement of rocks, maybe we could encourage them to be just as passionate about helping us clean up our parks and trails.”
Participating in future Envirobuzz cleanup events will be an excellent way to earn volunteer hours while truly making a difference in the community. The next trash cleanup party, hosted by Envirobuzz, will be at Dana Park in Harker Heights, at 10 am on Saturday, August 19. More details will be available on the Envirobuzz Facebook page.