2011-04-30

LA River Cleanup

This morning I participated in the LA River Cleanup. I came home wet, dirty, sweaty, and bloody. In other words, it was fun. I was a pretty eager volunteer and put myself into precarious situations in, around, and over the river in order to retrieve litter. I consider this courage extra generous considering that I'm uninsured. I felt like Liz Lemon on this past week's 30 Rock stopping at nothing - or almost nothing - to get a bag out of a tree.

Volunteering did not just mean picking up trash - I also looked after the elderly. An older hippie man saw a plastic bag tangled high in a tree that I had already passed by because I couldn't reach it. I told him it would be difficult, but he said he was up for the challenge and began climbing this tree with thin branches. After watching him fall twice, I went over to spot him because I was concerned for his well-being. A few minutes later, an even older man came to "help" and started climbing up the tree that could barely support one of their weights and definitely not both, so now I was trying to give a boost and chaperone two old men in a tiny yet tall tree. It took half an hour to accomplish, but they got the bag. I think it would have been smarter to skip that considering how much other trash that needed attending to, but they failed to see the forest through the trees, or past the bag in the trees, as it were. Also, I don't think killing the tree in the process of retrieving a bag really constitutes saving the earth, but I was focused on saving the human lives in this case.

Most of the trash consisted of plastic bags. Somehow they'd wrap themselves around trees in a way that it would take legitimate effort to peel them off. There were a few other fun items I came across however:

* golf balls
* a doll torso
* a banner wishing CONGRATULATIONS
* sports apparel
* a large kitchen knife
* cute heart-shaped sunglasses, which I might have kept were they not right next to the large kitchen knife
* gloves - evidently people who had been cleaning in previous years didn't really get that leaving the gloves behind added to the problem

The grossest thing I found was actually a winter hat. I picked it up and reeked of poop. Since it was right next to a shopping cart, I suspect that a homeless person had been using it as toilet paper. Fortunately, I was wearing gloves.

The most dangerous thing I encountered is when the curled remains of a mattress box-spring that had been pulled from the river rolled back down the hill right at me as if it were a tumbleweed. I saw it with plenty of time to get out of the way, but had I not, I'd be missing an eye and dealing with nine kinds of tetanus.

I may look like a cutter with all the scratches up and down my arms, but you haven't killed me yet, LA River!

1 comment:

hayley said...

hahaha you are cool kevin :) good stuff.