January 18th, 2021

Local girls looking to clean upwith Saving the Environment Club

By Sulz, Dave on March 7, 2020.

From left, Taiya Zgurski, Olivia Laing and Maryn McKay show their poster for the Saving the Environment Club they have started to encourage citizens to help pick up garbage and clean up the environment. Herald photo by Dave Sulz

Dave Sulz

lethbridge herald


We can all help make a difference in caring for the environment.

That’s the message a group of dedicated young people are sharing while doing their part to clean up the environment in Lethbridge.

Olivia Laing explained their mission grew out of a comment by a friend’s mom that perhaps they could find a way to help protect the oceans, which news reports warn are seriously threatened by increasing pollution from plastics and other garbage.

Recognizing that trying to safeguard the oceans while living in landlocked southern Alberta was a monumental task, Olivia and her friends decided to start by doing what they could closer to home. So they formed the Saving the Environment Club and are committed to going out each Thursday afternoon – the day they’re all free – to spend an hour picking up garbage.

Olivia and her friends Taiya Zgurski and Maryn McKay – all 10 years old – kicked off their efforts last week by venturing out, along with Olivia’s two brothers and another boy from the neighbourhood, to pick up trash around a nearby lake.

“We found a lot of stuff,” noted Maryn. “In 10 minutes we had a whole bag full.”

Taiya said she and several others spent some time picking up garbage on Sunday, too.

Discarded coffee cups are a common item, they’ve discovered, and one of their goals is to encourage people to take the time to dispose of litter properly so it doesn’t wind up in the environment. It’s not only unsightly, but can also be harmful to wildlife, such as the geese Olivia says are common around the lake.

There are lots of other animals in the city that can be harmed, Taiya adds.

Plastic bags are a major problem, one which people can help reduce by using reusable bags, says Olivia.

The girls have been working to spread the word at school and elsewhere to encourage others to join them in picking up garbage in their own areas.

“I’ve told lots of people at school,” says Taiya, who attends Father Leonard Van Tighem School. Olivia and Maryn go to Dr. Gerald B. Probe School.

They have also put up posters around the city, and Olivia said her grandmother, who lives in Edmonton, has passed on the message to people Edmonton and Calgary.

The girls believe a noticeable difference can be made if enough people take up the cause.

“We want lots more people to start picking up garbage,” says Olivia.

“It’s fun to do with other people,” adds Maryn.

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“The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people.” – Kailash Satyarthi

Well done, Maryn, Olivia and Taiya!