Citywide clean-up underway today in Shawano

By: 

Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

Today is Earth Day, celebrated in 193 countries. It is a day to raise public awareness about the need for environmental protection.

A citywide clean-up hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will begin at 9 a.m. today. If interested, you can join the volunteers who will meet at the Memorial Park shelter (Lieg and Lincoln). Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Alderperson and church member Lisa Hoffman was instrumental in organizing this effort.

Lisa commented, “A while ago a friend of mine asked me if I knew of any service projects in the community. I contacted assistant city manager/public works coordinator Eddie Sheppard and parks and recreation director Matt Hendricks to ask if there was anything we could help with.”

Hoffman continued: “They were so helpful. I agreed a clean-up would be a great project and an opportunity for our entire congregation to get involved. I love the idea of our departments working together with our community members to make and keep Shawano the best that it can be.”

She added: “I truly believe events like this help our citizens of all ages take ownership of where they live and gives them a sense of pride in their community. Working in partnership with the City not only saves taxpayers money but also builds relationships of trust and friendship.”

The volunteers will be clearing/weeding at Kuckuk Park, cleaning shelters at Memorial Park and Huckleberry Harbor, landscaping, adding sand and cleaning the beach at Smalley Park, doing some maintenance at the cemetery and picking up litter along Waukechon Street, etc.

Sheppard commented, “Our hope is that this becomes an annual event that benefits all the residents of Shawano by making our streets and park systems the kind of beautiful clean places we all want them to be.”

It is disappointing to see the amount of litter in some areas of our community. Littering cost the U.S. $11.5 billion annually! Did you know cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world? Surveys show more than 50 percent of littered items are cigarette butts! It is just repulsive to see the cigarette butts that litter the sidewalks and gutters on Main Street. It seems people think nothing of throwing them down wherever they please. Kudos to those business owners/employees who go out and sweep up the butts. Unfortunately, I have seen others sweeping or blowing them into the street. Obviously, much of the debris gets into our storm sewers and then ends up polluting our river.

It takes a minimum of five years for a cigarette butt to degrade. It is estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are improperly discarded annually. It would be such an easy thing for smokers to keep a zip-lock bag in their purse or pocket, extinguish their cigarettes and place them in the bag until they can be disposed of properly.

Many smokers are animal lovers and perhaps don’t realize the threat cigarette butts and filters are to wildlife. They have been found in the stomach of animals, fish and birds who have mistaken them for food.

The second most littered item is fast-food bags, cups, wrappers, etc. If you want to see a mess, drive to the east end of Walmart’s parking lot and look in the grassy and wooded area. You will see plastic bags hanging from trees and fast-food debris. It is really disgusting that people care so little for our environment and the cleanliness of our community that they simply throw the garbage out of their car windows.

According to a national study, the older people get, the more likely they are to throw litter properly in a trash bin. The study showed people ages 18-34 litter most frequently. The study also showed males are more likely to litter than females. We need to encourage “everyone” to be responsible and kind to Mother Earth.

Chapter 9, Public Nuisances, 8.05 (2) No person shall throw away any glass, rubbish, waste or filth upon the streets, alleys, highways, public parks or other property of the City or upon any private property not owned by him or her or upon the surface of any body of water within the City. The fine is $187 for littering and $376 for public nuisances.

“I hate the hand that comes out of a car and just drops litter in the street. I hate that! For some reason, it just fills me with fury! It is just utter laziness, lack of consideration for others and a slap in the face of Mother Nature.” – Joyce Monty

Answer to last week’s question: The strike at the Consolidated Badger Cooperative occurred in June 1949 and lasted for 81 days. The farmers ran the plant.

This week’s question: What did the American Legion post and auxiliary collect in 1942 to send to Army camps and USO clubhouses? No, not cigarettes!

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.