It’s hard to believe but I am halfway through my internship with Asheville GreenWorks. The past four weeks have provided me with so many opportunities to learn, grow, and step out of my comfort zone. “Get dirty for a great cause” could not be a more perfect way to describe my experiences with GreenWorks so far and I have loved every minute of it. From water quality testing with macroinvertebrates, vermicomposting with worms, and river cleanups along the French Broad, every day that I come home with a little bit of mud is a day well spent.
On my second week working with Asheville GreenWorks I accompanied Eric Bradford, Director of Operations, on a river cleanup with a visiting group from South Carolina. I had never done anything like it before so the idea of hopping out on the French Broad in a kayak was a little daunting at first. As soon as we hit the water I knew it was going to be a great day. Eric made sure everyone involved in the cleanup had the supplies needed for safe and successful participation. I had expected to collect plastic water bottles and maybe a tire or two after hearing about how many tires are found in the French Broad with each cleanup. As we made our way down the river I filled my bag with plenty of bottles, aerosol cans, and a surprising amount of styrofoam, which was particularly alarming to me since styrofoam can not be recycled. Not too long into our journey I passed a girl who was wading in the water waiting for assistance to remove what was left of a wheelchair from the mud below the surface. Two more foldable chairs were collected, along with old soccer balls and, of course, several tires.
I have lived in Asheville my whole life, and I never would have imagined how much junk ends up in our waterways. The French Broad River is utilized by so many people and it was shocking to see the things dumped in the water. It seems like GreenWorks holds cleanups all the time, but even with the frequency of these events, litter still finds its way into the river. The beautiful thing is, the more community members that come out to join Asheville GreenWorks for a cleanup, the safer, more beautiful, and more green our environment and the place we call home becomes.
Becca Cohen - Z.Smith Reynolds Intern / Asheville GreenWorks