Nfld. & Labrador

Grand Concourse looking for volunteers to help clean up trash on trails

The Grand Concourse Authority is looking for about 60 volunteers to help pick up litter on the northeast Avalon.

Chair hopes social psychology and some helpful volunteers will help keep trails clean

Grand Concourse Authority Chair Ron Penney says the authority is looking for about 60 volunteers to join its trail custodial program. (Paula Gale/CBC)

Ron Penney walks on the Grand Concourse or the East Coast Trail on the northeast Avalon every day, but in addition to the beautiful views of nature and wildlife, he's seeing more and more litter.

Penney, who is also chair of Grand Concourse Authority, says seeing all that trash bothers him.

"It used to really irritate me and then the light went on and I said 'there's no point in being irritated, that doesn't get you anywhere'," he told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show

The idea was if there's no litter on trails, people are less likely to litter.- Ron Penney

"So on my own, every time I go for a walk I bring a plastic bag and a pair of gloves and I pick up the litter. The idea was that if there's no litter on trails, people are less likely to litter."

Penney said after doing some research in social psychology, his theory that less litter makes people less likely to litter turned out to be true.

Setting an example

He wanted to continue that effort when he became chair of the concourse authority a year and a half ago.

"I thought, 'well, this is something that we could do, we could build on the example that I and others set and to set up a volunteer trail custodial program', which we've now officially launched," said Penney.

The authority has crews, he said, but they can't cover all the trails everyday. Penney is asking people to sign up online, take responsibility for a small section of trail and make it part of their routine to clean up litter in that area. 

Penney says anyone can help to clean up the trail system, 'as long as you can bend over.' (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

He said the authority has divided its nearly 200 kilometres of trails into 60 sections of a few kilometres each. Penney said he handles a couple of kilometres, but there's no obligation for volunteers and litter doesn't have to be collected everyday.

"As long as you can bend over — because that gets more difficult as you get older — it would just be great. It's proven, the social psychology's there, it actually works."

Penney said there's no training required and volunteers can get started right away by signing up on the Grand Concourse's website.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show