Last week, SWANA worked with Montgomery County Parks to get a local park cleaned up in honor of America Recycles Day. At SWANA, we believe it is not enough to talk about the issues facing our environment and that we need to go out and do something about it. So, we put on our gloves and got to work!
The park looked clean on the surface, however once we started walking around and looking, we couldn’t see anything but trash. The park included sports fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, a playground, and a community center.
“The most interesting find was a stainless-steel knife from a dining service. Most frequent finds were plastic caps from water bottles and candy wrappers from a Halloween event,” said Sue Bumpous, the Technical Divisions Manager.
While we all work in the solid waste and recycling industry, it was interesting to see how other counties and parks separate their recyclables. It was a fun, casual, team building exercise as we split into groups to tackle the park.
“Beyond enjoying a beautiful fall day, the park clean-up helped us bond as a team and opened my eyes further to the challenges of dealing with waste that came in so many forms – aluminum cans, candy wrappers, plastics, and even a four-foot piece of garden hose!” said Arminda Valles-Hall, Director of Member Learning and Education.
“When you work as a team, the ‘job’ becomes a fun activity and you feel satisfied helping our local community,” said Estela Martinez, Manager of Membership and Chapter Services.
SWANA encourages everyone this America Recycles Day to take even a couple hours to give back to their community and the planet.
Read how the volunteer event impacted more of the SWANA staff who participated in the park clean up!
"It was sad to see the area that had the most trash was the strip beside the road from people who throw trash out their window when driving by. However, overall, it was a very positive experience. With all of us working, it only took us a couple hours to get the park cleaned up. It was very rewarding to see all of the trash and recycling bags filled once we were done. I highly recommend everyone to get out and give back to their community whenever they get the chance!" – Sarah Beidleman, Marketing Coordinator.
“Planning this volunteer event was a “cool” initiative intended to showcase how SWANA cares for the environment and also encourage team building, however, it was an eye-opening reality to me. Seeing how much trash was carelessly disposed of in a local county park and how unaware we are of our trashy surroundings was huge to me. I had no idea how the county parks function and all the tasks that go into maintaining these public spaces. Their community volunteer trash pick-up program is great, and I wish it would get more attention from companies and individuals looking to give back. After seeing all the bags of trash and recycling collected and all the effort and positive attitude #TeamSWANA brought to volunteer day, it was satisfying to know that even in a small way, we are working to make a difference. This event definitely encourages me to look out for opportunities to give back to my community, the environment, and to reduce, reuse, and recycle.” – Andrea Lazo Parras, Graphic Designer.
“Collecting waste and recyclables at a county park with #TeamSWANA was a terrific and satisfying experience. It was eye-opening, and a bit disappointing, how much trash people throw on the ground in a county park. I urge SWANA members to participate in such events in their communities.” – David Biderman, Executive Director and CEO
Part of the SWANA team posing next to their trash and recycling bags.