A group of 36 Pen-Hi students gathered Wednesday afternoon to clean up trash on the beach and around the city for Earth Day.
The event, organized by Grade 12 students Alex and Rachel Jung, Maya Bassot, Lindsay Spear and Nicole Samberger, was a way to give back to the community during COVID-19 when more people are spending time outdoors, Jung said.
The graduating class of Pen-Hi has held Earth Day clean-ups in the past but in recent years that fell by the wayside. The students behind the new Earth Day clean-up hope to bring back that tradition.
The 36 student volunteers, from grades 9 to 12, were be organized into groups of four for social distancing purposes. The groups started at Okanagan Beach and then spread to areas like Gyro Park, the Art Gallery, the KVR Trail and more.
Jung said, as a young person, taking care of the environment is at the top of her priorities.
“It’s really important, obviously the earth is getting warmer and the environment is getting impacted a lot,” she said. “It’s really sad to see litter everywhere.”
Environmental concerns have taken a backseat during the pandemic, according to Jung. However, climate change is still an ongoing issue and Jung hopes to remind people of how important it is to take it seriously, get involved and treat the earth like you care about it.
“Especially in the Okanagan, it’s such a beautiful place,” she said. “But it’s so often littered with cigarette butts and garbage and that can be really harmful to the environment.”
The organizers of the clean-up hope their actions inspire more people to do their part to keep Penticton and the Okanagan clean by not littering and adopting environmentally friendly practices.