Why these P.E.I. students launched a clean-up crew to collect trash at their school

·3 min read
Aiden Shaw and Olivia MacDougall, both grade 9 students at East Wiltshire Intermediate School in Cornwall, P.E.I., were tired of seeing trash around their school, and started a clean-up crew.   (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC News - image credit)
Aiden Shaw and Olivia MacDougall, both grade 9 students at East Wiltshire Intermediate School in Cornwall, P.E.I., were tired of seeing trash around their school, and started a clean-up crew. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC News - image credit)

A pair of Prince Edward Island students say you don't need to wait for Earth Day to clean up your community.

Grade 9 students Aiden Shaw and Olivia MacDougall recently launched a clean-up crew at East Wiltshire Intermediate School in Cornwall — and they hope it inspires others to get in the habit of thinking about the environment on a regular basis.

The pair says a course in leadership inspired them to start bi-weekly clean-ups of the property around their school, East Wiltshire Intermediate.

"We had the idea, since no one else would pick up the trash, that we just go over and do it ourselves," said Shaw. He said the trash left on school property ranges from chocolate milk bottles to candy wrappers to discarded masks.

"It makes you feel pretty satisfied that the trash won't end up going into the wrong places, like into a bird's nest or something."

We have an earth and we have a job to take care of it, so just doing it one day won't make a difference. — Olivia MacDougall

MacDougall says it was hard to look around the school grounds and see so much garbage.

"It's really disappointing that some people don't care about the community and can just do that without having a second thought," said MacDougall. She said since starting the regular clean-ups, the area looks much cleaner — and that feels good.

"We go in partners and most of the time we can pick up to a quarter of a bag to half a bag of trash. But since we've been doing this twice a week, we've seen a lot less trash around the school," said MacDougall.

"It makes you feel very happy and just, like, excited about what you're doing because it's like you're making a difference and not just saying you're going to do it, you're actually doing it."

'The littlest things make a difference'

The pair connected with school officials to help with planning. They made posters and recruited more helpers, and now have at least 15 people participating in the cleanups. The school donates bags and gloves for the students to use.

"It took a lot of work, but it feels nice that we can actually go around and make a difference in the community," said Shaw.

He said thus far, the cleanups are going well and students are enjoying the time outdoors. He's hopeful the initiative will also encourage people to be more mindful of how they dispose of their garbage.

MacDougall enjoys spreading the message that small acts count.

"We have an earth and we have a job to take care of it, so just doing it one day won't make a difference. We want to try to spread this idea of acting and not just saying things so we can have a better earth and community," she said.

"The littlest things make a difference."

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