SHS Students Take On Marsh Pollution

Jada Thielen, Opinion Editor

Scituate is home to amazing beaches, breathtaking coastal views, and passionate citizens who care about maintaining its beauty. On Sunday, October 17, Scituate student volunteers put on their work gloves to remove the trash accumulated in the marsh. 

Environmental advocate and dedicated SHS science teacher Juvy Hartweg shared  why the marsh is important to clean up: “The marsh is a gateway between the North River and the ocean, and we are the gatekeepers.” There is a domino effect, as the health of the marsh determines the health of the rivers. Unintentional trash and unsecured items in people’s yards can easily blow into the marsh, and as the tide goes up, trash remains stuck. This trash is more than just bottles, cans, and plastic–it is a “death wish” to animals sharing a habit with us, as Hartweg describes it. Trash can affect the bird population, too: when animals have no place to reproduce or raise their offspring and easily confuse plastic as food, their lives are in jeopardy.

Beach cleanups also establish school unity. This year, freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors collaborated to create a productive team and a memorable experience all while making an impact. 

Senior James Nelson is proud to be the vice president of the Environmental Club. His motivation to become a leader of this SHS student-run group was his passion for his local environment. “We all want to live in a clean, healthy community,” explained Nelson. “I feel like I made an impact today, even if it was a small one,” Nelson said after returning from hours spent in the marsh. Nelson partnered with senior Sophia Hanna and collected several items that were polluting the North River marsh: a vintage Sprite can, a kayak paddle, multiple boogie boards, and a birdhouse. Hanna agrees the marsh was definitely in need of a cleanup and expressed how surprised she was to see so much trash accumulated: “It was definitely messy but completely worth it to clean up,” she commented. 

According to Nelson and Hanna, the marsh clean-up went exceptionally well. Hartweg has aspirations to grow this year’s efforts by getting more people to participate. Nelson added, “I want more people to participate because it is good to make an impact while experiencing it with new people.” These clean-ups will continue throughout the year, especially in the spring, prior to the tourism season.