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Dumpster Diving in the Merrimack River

Imagine that your city dump is located at the bottom of a river, unseen below the surface… and that same river is the main source for your community’s drinking water. Most people would be shocked to realize how common this scenario actually is.

We need a wake up call, and the people of the Clean River Project in Lowell, Massachusetts answered the call with their July 25th “scavenger hunt” cleanup on the Merrimack River. The competition challenged people to see how much “stuff” they could collect from the river with scoring on a points-based system. (There were prizes for both “small boat” and “large boat” categories.)

Competitors dove in and hauled up cars and car parts, engines, a dishwasher, a couch, a tar and gravel roof (ugh!) and many other nasty polluting items from the river that supplies drinking water to Lowell, Lawrence and Methuen (home of the Methuen bottle tree, which was NOT pulled out of the river!)

After the cleanup, the debris was recycled or properly disposed of. I believe I would have preferred that all of it stayed there for a bit, the entire mountain of rusting, smelly, soggy crap, along with some signage explaining where this mess had been…and where it was headed. That’s my idea of compelling public education.

Congratulations to the hardy competitors! Video (with front-end advertising) and screenshots from necn.com.

Post-Festival Fate of the Metheun Tree

Sometimes I’d just stare and think…I wonder what’s become of her? Just a couple months ago we wrote about plastic bottle holiday trees, including this recyclarific example from the 2008 Methuen (Massachussetts) annual Festival of Trees. And now that the holidays are over, we sadly assumed she had been shredded to bits and cruelly bundled in a recycling center or worse, buried alive in a dank, smelly landfill.

So imagine my excitement to see her again while browsing Flickr, under the heading I WON THIS AT THE METHUEN FESTIVAL OF TREES.

This must be this the same tree, I think, but she sure looks different in the morning without her lights! So I send a message to the owner to inquire about her fate… “I’m curious… what happens to it now?”

The happy response: “We have decided to move it to our pool area and keep it as a conversation piece.”  She always loved being by the water, and now she’s a bathing beauty. And possibly headed for another adventure as a emergency rescue flotation device. Ah, life’s funny.