Earth Club Tackles Pollution

Trista Truong, Co-editor

   Cleaning up Ben Geren Park, Earth Club tackled local pollution on Oct. 9.  The clean up involved 40 students partnering with Keep Fort Smith Beautiful to boost community interaction while bringing attention to an annual event. 

   “When Paula Lindor reached out to me with the idea of getting Southside students involved in the clean-up, I thought it was a great idea and I was fully on board,” president Nabila Siddiqui said.

   Students filled a total of 36 trash bags in two and a half hours. Although the clean-up was intended to grow community involvement, the bigger motive brought awareness to the environment having students see pollution at the public park first hand.

   “Doing the clean-up was a good idea as it brought awareness to the dangers of littering. I vividly recall seeing trash wedged deep into the Earth, which goes to show how long it has been there. The clean-up brought Southside together to make something that seems rather boring into something fun,” vice-president Hunter Wilbourn said.

   Earth Club members aim to learn more about the consequences of littering and the effect it has on pollution. The Times Record featured club members during the Keep Fort Smith Beautiful clean-up.

   “You always hear about how our environment is in danger, but it really opens your eyes when you see it first hand. It’s scary to think about all the litter that’s not getting picked up, but it’s good to know that I made a small difference in my community,” club member Ellie Bunnell said.

   While pollutants may be naturally occurring from the Earth, many are created from human activities. A concern for environmental scientists is the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer, which protects it from ultraviolet radiation.

   “Pollution affects us in countless ways when you think about the big problem Fort Smith has had with the sewer system and how they had to raise the sewer prices. Not only health wise, you know with the potential we can have from E. Coli or whatever is getting in the water we also have the problem with that it hurts us financially. If you think about air pollution and the different substances that get put out into the air, then you know it can hurt us physically for the ozone layer. But then again what we don’t think about is it hurts us financially because people miss work because they are sick because of the pollution,” APES teacher Karen McGee said.

   According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heavily polluted air may increase risks of lung cancer and deadly air pollutants can cause death. Important ecosystems like forests and oceans are also negatively affected by pollution. Nearly half of the litter in oceans are from activities taken place on land such as garbage dumping or chemical runoff. All these problems caused by pollution intensify the effects of global warming. 

   “It is just endless what pollution does to us and hurts us in every way, hurts us physically, and hurts us emotionally because you don’t feel good and we aren’t happy people hurts us financially that people don’t think about,” McGee said.

   Inspired by many environmental activists such as Greta Thunsberg, Earth Club members strive to clean up the Earth and educate others about the dangers of pollution. 

   “The clean-up was a good way to get students involved with their environment and really bring awareness to problems like pollution that are much more prevalent than we think,” Siddiqui said.