The Philosophy Society and the Environmental Club participated in the Alabama Coastal Cleanup (ACC), an event that focuses on cleaning litter from coastal waterways and beaches, on Sept. 15.
It is a part of the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental group based in Washington, D.C., which coordinates state events like the ACC.
Jay Valentine, assistant professor of philosophy and adviser of the Philosophy Society, participated in the event for the first time. The event was in collaboration with the Environmental Club for the 31st annual Alabama Coastal Cleanup.
The Philosophy Society and the Environmental Club each adopted a part of the Conecuh River and regularly venture over to rid the area of litter. This year they decided to collaborate and clean other parts of Alabama waterways.
Valentine and the volunteers found a variety of trash in the river area. They discovered plenty of glass, tobacco and even tires in the surrounding woods.
“We pulled 28 tires out of the woods,” Valentine said. “We had a solid pile at first, but it was misleading because people kept coming out of the woods with tires.”
Valentine said he sees keeping the environment clean as a social and moral responsibility and that recycling makes more sense than dumping trash into a landfill or a river.
“There are a lot of good individuals who are cleaning up the environment,” Valentine said. “But I have yet to see it common that people look at taking care of it as a moral responsibility.”
Elizabeth Ensor, lecturer of biology and adviser to the Environmental Club, has worked with Alabama Coastal Cleanup for five years.
The Environmental Club is a part of a team that works in Alabama.
“We’re always amazed, but not in a good way, about things people will throw out,” Ensor said. “Sometimes we even have contests on who can find the weirdest thing. One year we actually found a box crematorium remains were once in.”
Ensor said cleaning in the river area reminds her how important it is to periodically take care of the environment and that accessibility is a major part of keeping trash where it belongs.
“Having regular trash pickup or designated recycling areas would help people do the right thing,” Ensor said.
Heaven Lee Anhalt, a senior math major from Nashville, Tennessee, is a member of the Philosophy Society and the Environmental Club.
“There is no Planet B,” Anhalt said. “Most people aren’t conscious of where their trash goes.”
Anhalt said going out and cleaning is worth it when you can see how littering and pollution affect the ecosystem and how easily it is disrupted.
“We found a beer can and saw a crawfish living inside,” Anhalt said. “We cut the can in half and saw the crawfish living off the rain water, and we eventually set it free.”
Anhalt encourages other students to get involved in cleaning up the earth around them.
“Animals, insects and even the water has to go around what we leave there,” Anhalt said. “Even if you are not going to recycle, at least throw it away. At least do the minimum.”