Cleaning Through Mud, Trash, and Mount David

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Despite rainy conditions, a large group of students gathered to volunteer their time and help make our campus a little cleaner during this past Sunday’s EcoService Day.

The annual campus-wide cleanup started last year as an extension of the longer standing community cleanup throughout Lewiston that the EcoReps and the Harward Center organize during Short Term. According to EcoRep Sophia Thayer ’18, the on-campus cleanup will hopefully continue in the years to come.

“We’re trying to make it a tradition. On-campus in the fall, off-campus in the spring,” said Thayer.

Volunteers were given a choice of several possible activities, including cleanups of Mount David and the Puddle, leaf raking, trash bin painting, and letter writing. Each project focused on a different problem that either affect the environment or student safety. These projects have changed slightly from last year.

“We try to clean up the glass and trash up there [on Mount David] because it’s kind of dangerous. On the last EcoService Day we had a fence behind some of the Frye Street Houses that we slowly tried to take down to create accessibility to the mountain from that side. But we’re not doing that this year,” said Thayer.

For the Puddle cleanup, volunteers had to use waders borrowed from professors in the science departments in order to wade into the water. Historically, this cleanup has had the most surprises.

“Last year we found a wheelchair, parking signs, and bikes, so it’s crazy,” explained Thayer.

Though raking the newly fallen leaves was important for keeping the campus clean, the EcoService day organizers were also hoping to have enough leaves to create a pile for students to jump into. An annual leaf jump used to be a Bates tradition once the leaves started falling, but it has not been organized in the last few years.

EcoService day was able to take place despite the imminent loom of rain clouds as the volunteers gathered in the morning. Many of the volunteers and organizers had taken part in the Outing Club’s group hike on Mount Katahdin the day before.

In addition to the cleanup, volunteers were encouraged to take breaks in upstairs Commons where they could write letters to a member of the Maine state legislature about a variety of environmental issues.

The final project accomplished during EcoService day was the painting of several trash bins on campus. The goal of this was to give all of the bins a more uniform look so that students can use them properly.

“Many trash bins in the different buildings are different colors and have different signs, and it’s confusing. We’re just systemizing to make them all the same,” said Thayer.

The EcoReps are a student group dedicated to “work[ing] toward promoting environmentally responsible behavior on campus.” EcoService Day is only one of the many projects that the group works on. Others include the annual Trashion Show, the Green Bike program and promoting good sustainability practices amongst the Bates community through informative posters.

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