Warhawks clean trash off bayou’s banks

Cameron Jett, Editor-in-Chief

When you picture how college students spend their Saturday morning, you might guess they’re sleeping in or working a weekend job, but most people wouldn’t guess they’d be picking up trash around campus.

Members of Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society (Tri-Beta) helped organize a cleanup on Saturday to remove trash and other unwelcome items from Bayou DeSiard on ULM’s campus. 

Tri-Beta President Niles Majeste recruited help from other student organizations like Alpha Epsilon Delta and Psi Chi, and together they picked up approximately 130 pounds of trash from the banks of Bayou DeSiard.

“I wouldn’t say campus was in a terrible state, but it was unfortunate to see the amount of waste in the water surrounding ULM,” Majeste said.

Those involved in the cleanup found plastic bags, masks, Styrofoam and other objects that are slow to decompose and can cause harm to wildlife and the environment.

 According to the World Wildlife Fund, plastic shopping bags can take around 20 years to fully decompose, while plastic bottles can take almost 500 years to break down. And as they break down, they release harmful microplastics into the soil and water.

Tri-Beta Vice President Brooklyn Nolan said plastic bags were one of the most environmentally harmful items found.

“They can entangle in plants’ roots and prevent their ability to properly receive oxygen,” Nolan said. “As for the animals, they could be digested, which could cause strangulation. Or it could remain in their stomachs, and they are then unable to eat more food and will die of starvation.”

Animals in and around the bayou can be harmed by the litter. In addition to everyday trash, other objects made for shocking finds throughout the morning.

“The most surprising find was a pair of women’s underwear,” Tri-Beta Secretary Graham Grunsky said.

But regardless of the type of trash that people throw away, Majeste said there is one easy way to keep ULM from having another 130 pounds of waste in the bayou.

“Simply reduce the amount of littering,” he said. “It is that simple.”