More than 40 volunteers showed up for the Memphis River Warriors’ first cleanup of the year Saturday.
During the cleanup, volunteers walked through the woods by McKellar Lake and collected Styrofoam, plastic and glass bottles, wrappers and other trash that had washed up on the banks.
In two hours, volunteers collected 580 pounds of recyclable materials.
The Memphis River Warriors, a registered student organization at the University of Memphis, works with other organizations like Memphis City Beautiful and the Sierra Club Chickasaw Group to clean up the area, which used to be a popular vacation spot.
Rachel Waters, a freshman psychology major at the U of M, got involved when she came to college because her older sister Grace Waters was part of the core group of initial volunteers.
“I started to go in support of her, but I very soon got hooked on the idea of making a change in the community and doing something for the greater good of millions of people,” Waters said. “Before coming to these cleanups, I had no idea of the magnitude of trash that could accumulate in one location.”
“It’s so rewarding to be able to fill three to four trash bags with plastic bottles by yourself during a cleanup,” Phung said. “Knowing that our efforts have amounted to over 50,000 pounds of plastic being recycled encourages me to continue to help out.”
Waters said she enjoys going to cleanups for more than just the environmental benefit.
“Going to a cleanup is like hanging out with your friends for a couple of hours,” Waters said. “Once you get a conversation started with a friend or someone you’ve just met, you don’t realize how fast time goes by and how many bags of garbage you’ve picked up.”
The next cleanup on April 26 marks the third year of McKellar Lake cleanups.
For those who can’t make it out, Phung said recycling trash before it gets into the waterways helps.
“No matter how much we pick up, trash will still collect a McKellar Lake year in and year out until changes are made on a larger scale towards littering,” Phung said. “Making a conscious effort to put your plastic bottles in a recycling bin means you are not contributing to the pile up of trash that is collecting along the waterways in our city.”