Trashy treasure hunt

It doesn’t seem to matter where you go, it’s difficult to find a stretch of road that isn’t spotted with a few fast food or coffee cups, cigarette packages or break-open tickets.

Lately, there has been a lot less litter on the side of some roads, thanks to Trenton resident Al McGrath, who has taken it upon himself to clean up his corner of the world.

“I started walking, seeing so much crap on the road so I decided to start picking it up,” said McGrath.

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Being recently retired, he took up walking as a way to get out and pass some time during his day. Lately, he takes more or less the same routes with different side streets along the way. Some of his frequent routes include Main Street in Trenton, all the way to Park Road from his house near Tim Hortons, or he also frequently walks into New Glasgow as far as George Street and takes various side streets home, cleaning all the way.

McGrath collects anywhere from a few grocery bags of garbage, to an overflowing recycle bag while on his walk.

“Some days you go out and fill a Sobeys shopping bag. Last Saturday, I filled two (recycle bags,)” said McGrath. He says that he frequently picks up empty cigarette cartons, straws, coffee cups, fast food wrappers and bags as well as break open lottery tickets.

Once he collects the garbage on his walk, McGrath takes it all back to his Chestnut Street home and puts it to the curb with his own garbage. He also sorts the cans and bottles from what he finds and recycles them appropriately.

“I’ve got five (bags) up there so far, probably more than five,” he said.

He also noted that he finds quite a bit of dog poop in his travels.

“Then you have the people that clean up after their dog, but some people, what they do is put it in a bag (and leave the discarded bag) and that’s worse.”

He has also come up with his own names for those that like to spread litter around the community—but we’re not going to print some of McGrath’s colourful Newfoundland vocabulary…

McGrath also posts on his personal Facebook page each week for people to see how much litter he has collected during that week.

“Just to let em’ know what’s out there; some people haven’t got a clue,” he said.

McGrath said that he isn’t aware of anyone else in the area that regularly does the same sort of thing.

“I’ve got no competition,” he laughed.


Trenton resident Al McGrath picks up some of the garbage he  found on Main Street Trenton last week.  (Brimicombe photo)

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Heather Brimicombe
Heather Brimicombe is a Pictou County native and graduate from the University of King's College in Halifax with a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree as well as a combined major in Sustainability. She has previously won a Canadian Communities Newspapers award for a multimedia feature and was part of a team nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalism data award in the investigative category. Photography, art, sports and outdoor activities are all hobbies of hers as well as crafting, and baking.