This semester, my service looked very different! Usually, I volunteer somewhere that I can interact with people, such as the Arc of Southeast Mississippi. However, because of the pandemic, my options were very limited. I took Zoology this semester where the teacher connected us to an organization called the Mississippi Inland Cleanup Program.
This organization focuses on cleaning up trash in Mississippi. This is where I volunteered my time this semester. I knew litter was an issue, otherwise there wouldn’t be laws about it; however, I was still shocked by the amount and types of trash I found. For example, on the Longleaf Trace and other areas on our very own campus, I found buckets of trash. I wasn’t the only one either! Each cleanup project had multiple people cleaning up trash, and we were all able to fill buckets of trash that we picked up while walking around. Entire bottles of drinks, tons of fast-food bags, and even a Walmart bag full of crawfish shells!
Cleaning up trash isn’t the most glamorous form of volunteering; however, it is a vital part of keeping our community beautiful. This helps protect wildlife and bring more people outdoors to the local parks or walking tracks, which is good for community health! Another interesting aspect of the Mississippi Inland Cleanup Program is that they track all the trash that is found. This data is taken to local governments and companies to bring awareness to the amount of waste that is produced. Companies are told how much trash was found at each site and what that trash does to the environment to push them to focus on alternatives to plastic and paper.
In total, I volunteered fifteen hours of my time to this program. Each hour feels like I made a difference knowing that not only is the community a little cleaner but change is being made to stop the waste before it gets thrown out.
Post author Josie Lewis is majoring in biological sciences. She just completed her third year as a Luckyday Scholar.