Back in October a couple of Klean’s team members took on the challenge and opportunity to fly to Ohio and join forces with In Good Company and Living Lands & Waters to comb through the Ohio River, one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S. We sat down with Eugene, one of the Klean team members that volunteered, and asked him a few questions about his trip.
What was the most memorable thing to you on this trip?
The best and most memorable thing I did was spend the week learning about the history of the Ohio River, as well as getting dirty and cleaning up the banks of the river. Also, being able to spend time with and meet some amazing like-minded people from companies that also are all about making a difference in the world.
Did you find some crazy stuff?
There were all kinds of things we found. From basic plastic bottles, to dolls and stuffed animals with stuff growing out of them. Unfortunately, some items couldn't be removed. I found a very old rusted what looked to be a crib that had a tree completely grown into it. There were also tons of 55 gallon barrels that were completely overtaken by nature that we had to leave. One of the crew members near me was talking about Halloween and what people were dressing up as, and a few seconds later I found a pretty awesome toy skull head which I went on to take with me back home as a memento.
When you are actually there and see how bad the river is filled with so many different items, some everyday items, some not, you really get overwhelmed and start thinking, "Am I even making a difference?"
How polluted was the River?
Unbelievably polluted. Going into this project they say it's the most polluted river in the US. I never would have guessed it was as polluted as it was. It was jaw dropping to see pretty much every inch of the banks to be filled with anything and everything you could think of. At first it was overwhelming but once we got to work it was amazing to see what could be done and what we could accomplish. I would have never thought one of the biggest and most important rivers leading to our ocean could be so polluted and neglected.
Do you think In Good Company/you made an impact?
When we found out our total numbers of trash that we extracted for the week you can definitely feel like you made a difference. Our group ended up pulling out (by hand) 29,133 pounds of trash. The big standouts that we pulled out included 390 bags of trash, 265 car tires, 19 Semi tires, an alarming 5,401 pounds of plastic and 88 - 55 gal barrels. When you put all of what we did into perspective it absolutely makes you feel like you made an impact.
Was this trip inspirational to you?
This trip hands down was the most inspirational trip I have ever been on. When I reflected on it, it really made me think about my own life and to start changing the way I make my decisions and thoughts about everyday use and what I can do personally to start making a difference. When you go through a trip as powerful and meaningful as this you begin to be self-motivating to cut out a lot of my habits and daily decisions on what I buy and what I am doing. When you actually see how polluted just one little stretch of water can be, you really start to think about the bigger picture and what else is going on in the world.
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