Creation Restoration’s Spring Cleaning event gave students across campus the opportunity to participate in making campus cleaner.
Freshman Conor Nordmeyer leans over and swings a handmade fishing rod made from a railroad tie and 550 paracord into the swamp between freshman hill and the SoHo parking lot. The fishing rod catches on a bike tire. Nordmeyer yanks on the string until the bike emerges from the water, rolling it up and throwing it alongside the other bike he and his roommate found in the swamp.
Nordmeyer’s roommate and freshman applied physics major Ben Harker grew up loving the outdoors, hiking, fishing and feeling frustrated seeing trash and litter polluting the environment. Nordmeyer, a missional ministries and history double major, grew up in Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts where he developed a deep love and passion for nature.
A Bethel service-project focused club committed to connecting their Christian faith with environmental care called Creation Restoration hosted a campus-wide spring cleaning event Tuesday, April 4. Students could sign up as individuals or in teams to ‘adopt’ a section of campus to clean up. Creation Restoration provided gloves, bags and a map of campus designating which areas to pick up litter. Students could also compete to win a Chipotle gift card by collecting the greatest volume of trash or finding the most interesting object.
Creation Restoration co-leader and senior Ruth Schaefer organized the event, partly because it was a club tradition and partly because she wanted to see students getting involved in cleaning up the nature and woods around campus.
“Campus land serves as a unifier of people because we all live, study and play here,” Schaefer said.
Schaefer found the amount of people who signed up surprising. Though she only expected about five groups to adopt sections of campus, all 10 slots filled up. In addition to individual students, the diversity of participants included freshman floors, BSG Student Senate, BUILD students, RA teams and the men’s and women’s tennis teams.
Although sign-ups only lasted for three hours April 4, students or groups could sign up for a different day if they committed to cleaning up their section.
“One of the goals of this event was to try to fight the apathy we slip into because we are ‘busy’ or can’t make it to events,” Schaefer said. “I think that the flexible nature was appealing!”
The first time Nordmeyer and Harker picked up trash together was Saturday, March 25 – Harker’s birthday.
“I’d do it any day, it’s just a coincidence that that’s when (we decided to pick up trash),” Harker said. “I had nothing going on, so, might as well.”
According to Nordmeyer and Harker, they found eight brands of alcohol, 12 empty tins of chew-tobacco and a duffel bag with hookah coals between freshman hill and SoHo.
“I don’t want my campus or community to look like a dump,” Nordmeyer said.
They also found things they decided to reuse, like golf balls or baseballs. But Nordmeyer thought the funniest thing they found was a mug in the woods sporting the slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”
Nordmeyer and Harker said many others expressed interest in what they were doing and why. Other men on their freshman floor asked to join them the next time they go out.
Nordmeyer said he would like to start picking up trash more regularly. He plans to get a group together on a weekly basis and potentially make a club out of it called “Trash Pickers.”
“It’s easy to just throw your trash in the garbage instead of on the ground,” Nordmeyer said. “Though I understand sometimes the trashes get full and the wind can blow the trash out of the trash can.”
Schaefer believes Bethel is lacking in outdoor waste receptacles, and some of the trash cans don’t have lids to hold the garbage in, causing the trash to end up on the ground or in the woods when the trash cans overflow.
“This is something I’d like to see Bethel work on,” Schaefer said. “But I do have to say, again, it is encouraging that students want a clean campus and will participate in events like these!”
According to Josh Gerth, Manager of Grounds, litter has always been a problem on Bethel’s campus.
“The grounds crew plays a role in picking up litter around campus. Everyday we do checks for litter around the main entrances into the buildings and along main drives. We pick up litter in other high visibility areas on a regular basis as well,” Gerth said. “However, it is a big campus and we have a small staff so there are many places that we get to less frequently. That’s why cleanup days are helpful!”
For Harker and Nordmeyer, the solution starts with students.
“It you don’t like something, you might as well do something about it,” Harker said.