By Ülvi Gitaliyev
Visit any outdoor park long enough and will you begin to notice trash left by irresponsible visitors. Tons of plastic cups, chip bags, candy wrappers and much, much more are left in places that they do not belong every year. While most people try to leave no trash at all, one group has decided to fight back against the problem of littering directly.
“A lot of people don’t think of going out and picking up litter as a very fun hobby, but we really have a great time out together as a group,” said Mari Amber Melder Shaffer, head and founder of Berea Earth Warriors. Since 2021, she and a group of volunteers have been cleaning up parks in the local area, including in and around the Pinnacles. “We have removed over 3,000 pounds of garbage and furniture from Owsley Reservoir, which is where the city’s drinking water comes from,” added the eco-warrior. Her environmental group already has hundreds of members in Berea, volunteering to keep parks clean for everyone.
When asked where she wanted to see future of the project, Shaffer wanted more people to clean up litter from around their homes. “I would like to see this catch on in all of the towns around here and spread. You know, I want to see community volunteers that really care about making our community a better place. This group has really grown from four to 200 people.”
Shaffer also had something specific to say to Berea College students: “Any little tiny change is a change for the better. If it is picking up one Styrofoam plate you see blowing across a college campus, you have done something good for that day. Tuck a plastic bag in your backpack or in your pocket so you can pick up what you see when you walk around. You don’t have to go out of your way to make a difference. It can be in the little things that you do every day as part of your routine.”
You can join Shaffer and the Berea Earth Warriors in a Spring Retreat on April 23rd and 24th at 10981 Battlefield Memorial Highway (near the Pinnacles). Entry is $10 for each day and there is also the possibility to camp there for the night. At the end of the interview, Shaffer said this about the upcoming retreat, “We want to see everyone come out and have a great time with us at the Spring Retreat. We are going to have 15 bands, over 20 vendors, and working artists. We’re going to a yoga workshop, a guided plant hike, a hooping class, lots of food and just lots of exciting things going on. So, whether or not you’re an eco-warrior, we still want to see you out there because even just coming to our event helps support our calls and the restoration of Owsley Reservoir.”
Click here to donate to Berea Earth Warriors and their cause!