ECOrep Zoe Peerman ‘20 led volunteers in a clean-up of the Bushkill Creek on Sunday, October 22nd. In under an hour, the team picked up 64 pounds of debris.

A surprising array of litter, lawn chairs, bottles, and cigarettes were strewn on the hill sloping down into the water. Zoe had organized the event and broke her ten volunteers into groups of 2 to 3 for easy clean-up. Members of the track team, ECOreps, and Professor Art Kney’s civil engineering class came to help out.

Out of the 64 pounds picked up, 17 pounds were recyclables. Plastic bottles, cans, and glass bottles made up the majority. They were clean enough for the volunteers to carefully separate into a different bag from the garbage, and recycle them on campus.

Although many consider anything picked up on clean-ups to be ‘trash’, it is important to distinguish what can be saved in the process. Using recycled aluminum to make cans uses 95% less energy than working with raw materials. Zoe and her volunteers not only stopped the plastic from leaching into the creek, but recycled it to save energy and resources in the process.

Zoe’s passion for clean waterways and community engagement is shaping her ECOrep project for Spring 2018. She will be working with the LANDIS center and the Lafayette Grounds crew to plant a riparian buffer along the Bushkill and to clean up the Lehigh River across town with another volunteer group.