Lynn Valley Elementary students are ready to pick up their heavy load down by the riverside.
About 130 students are set snatch up litter at Hastings Creek and Hunter Park on Friday morning as part of the 2018 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
The national cleanup is responsible for plucking about 19,000 kilometres of trash – roughly the weight of a mid-size mobile home – from alongside Canada’s shores in 2018, according to a release from the organization.
While a few chocolate bar wrappers, cigarette butts and plastic bags might seem innocuous, the steady accumulation of trash can hurt wildlife and allow microplastics to leach into waterways.
Recent research revealed zooplankton have been feeding on microplastics in the Strait of Georgia, where there are approximately 3,200 of the small plastic fragments per cubic metre of sea water.
Besides making Hastings Creek and Hunter Park look a little better, the Friday morning cleanup is also a way to instill a mentality of environmental stewardship in young students, explains Lynn Valley Elementary teacher Patricia Laursen.
“It’s also about them respecting nature, not just cleaning it up,” she explains. “Our year has been really focused on Aboriginal education and one of the first principals of Aboriginal learning is that connection to the land and respect for the land.”
The project is meant to coincide with the school’s curriculum as well as Earth Week, Laursen explains.
The school’s focus has largely focused on simple endeavours like water conservation and picking up garbage, explains school principal Chanin Smyth.
“Students have had opportunity to . . . deepen their understanding around that with regards to our shared history of the land,” Smyth says.
The cleanup crew will range from Grade 2 to Grade 7 students, according to Laursen, who stressed the importance of starting young when teaching students about the environment.
Asked about the challenges of corralling 130 kids, Laursen laughs.
“It takes a village,” she says, explaining that parents will be on hand to supervise and organize.
Those supervisors will also ensure students stick to the main paths and don’t leave footprints in more ecologically sensitive terrain, Smyth says.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a partnership of the Ocean Wise Conservation Association and WWF-Canada with corporate backing provided by Loblaws Companies and Ricoh Canada.