London Clean & Green wraps up, but the mission continues

Clean & Green committee
The London Clean & Green organizing committee (from left: Rick Vandersluis, Erin Helm, Ron Scarfone, Carmela Ianni, Colleen Watson, Jay Stanford, Shannon Byron and Aashima Verma) have wrapped up another 12 Days of Cleaning, but remain committed to spreading their message of environmental awareness and action.

The London Clean & Green kicked off its 23rd year back on April 10 with comments from several people, including yours truly.

I was flattered to be asked to speak at the launch and bring my perspective to an event I have been covering for most of the 16 years I’ve been in the Forest City.

The London Clean & Green has grown far beyond what even the organizers originally imagined. What was once a Saturday morning event has expanded to include the 12 Days of Cleaning and signature events such as the 20-Minute Makeover corporate challenge and the annual tree plantings in St. Julien Park on Earth Day.

In my comments that day I spoke about being among the first reporters in the city to really get behind London Clean & Green, not only covering launch events and photo ops, but telling stories about those who were willing to stand up and do their part for a truly cleaner and hopefully greener city.

“People respond to stories; people respond to stories of their fellow Londoners getting involved, caring and taking action on that caring not just standing around saying let’s do something,” I said that day, adding that Londoners care enough to get out every spring for more than two decades and clean up their city.

With that in mind I was given the opportunity this year to continue telling those stories while sharing them on my Newswriter22 blog.

There were plenty of stories to tell.

Jay Stanford, London Clean & Green committee member and the City of London’s director of environment, fleet and solid waste, addressed the litter problem from the view of the municipality.

“We’re getting the people out there picking stuff up,” he said. “We’re hearing about it, seeing it in photographs, but we also know it keeps coming back. That’s why we have to adjust and do more.”

That effort was reflected through many conversations I had the pleasure of sharing over the past couple weeks.

Nadine Reeves, communications and marketing co-ordinator at Childreach, spoke about how her organization’s ongoing participation in the 20-Minute Makeover helped not only clean up their property, but connect with their neighbours while inspiring the children they care for to be environmentally minded.

Nicole St. John, herself a former London Clean & Green committee member and a long-time community cleanup participant, expressed why she continues to be involved in the project.

Not only is she out there picking up garbage during the Community Cleanup Day, but she is also out there throughout the year, doing her part to pick up litter.

“I’d like to hope that’s not who we are; I have hope that attitude can change,” she said. “If you have enough people . . . taking measures to clean up and not throw their litter down on the ground, I do think things can change.”

That effort continued this year and all it takes is a quick jump on social media to see the progress.

The London Clean & Green brought in Fanshawe College students Colleen Watson and Aashima Verma to push the organization’s message out across the internet. If you want proof Londoners embraced that call, visit Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and search for the hashtags #519CleanGreen and #20MinuteMakeover and you’ll see all the proof you need.

As the cleanup portion of London’s environmental efforts comes to a close, concentration has shifted to the greening.

May is the time for events such as tree plantings, compost sales, plant exchanges, nature walks and more.

For more details of how you can continue to create a cleaner and greener city, visit the London Environmental Network at www.londonenvironment.net.

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