APH First-Year Inspires Us with Community Cleanup

We’ve all felt it in some way or another. Spending hours and hours inside quarantining can take its toll. That’s why it’s important to keep our minds and bodies healthy by going outside for socially distant activities. It’s also a wonderful way to relieve stress, get some fresh air, and stay active.

Lily M ‘24 and her mom knew they needed to get out of the house. 

It all started with a weekend walk. Taking the time to get some fresh air, exercise, and spend quality time with one another, was a much needed break away from quarantining inside their home! As they went for their stroll around Wenham, they noticed the local cemetery was littered with garbage. It was there that they decided: “Let’s clean this up!”

It didn’t seem like much. A wrapper here, a plastic cup there. But as they continued picking up the trash, they began to notice a difference in how the cemetery looked. It was beginning to look clean! They decided to come back the next weekend to find more garbage and get their hands dirty. And the weekend after that. And the weekend after that. 

Why is removing trash from nature so important? Litter acts as a shade, blocking the sun’s rays from grass or any seeds in the ground. There can’t be any growth. But after several weeks of Lily’s weekend cleanup routines with her mom, that’s exactly what she found:

“We started noticing new growth on the ground where there was previously trash! Since then, we have been taking time out of our weekends to go visit local cemeteries and hiking trails in hopes to pick up as much trash as possible. Throughout time, we have noticed a massive change each day as we would come back to the same area. It was so cool to see how our hard work paid off and why it’s so important to keep our parks and pathways clean.” 

As part of a project in Lily’s World Religions class, students were challenged with doing something kind for themselves every day. Lily would jot down every time she went on her cleanup walks, a time that she now looks forward to, as her daily kindness. And it’s not just kindness to herself, but kindness to our planet as well!  

As COVID-19 changed a lot of holiday plans and traditions this year, Lily wants to offer her Penguin Hall community some encouragement to start a new tradition by going out into their local communities with their loved ones. It’s also not a bad way to walk off that turkey coma! 

“I got the idea that maybe we could try to encourage APH to participate as well!” says Lily. Not only is picking up trash beneficial for the environment, but also creates memories and family bonding as you spend time together!”

But how to start? She’s got some advice for that: 

“Go for it! All you have to do is start small. As long as you see the benefits it will have on you and your community, you’re doing it right!” 

During this break we hope you can join alongside Lily in Community Cleanup and give yourself (and the planet) some daily kindness! Here’s how:

  • Start small. It could be down the block from your house or your favorite path in a local park. Wherever you begin, pick up a little trash each day. You’ll start to notice the difference and your community will notice, too!
  • Invite the family to come along! Just as Lily shared, serving your community with your loved ones is an excellent way to spend quality time and is beneficial to your health, mentally and physically.
  • Invite friends, too, for a socially distant cleanup! With six feet apart from each other, you’re sure to cover more ground at a local park, cemetery or hiking trail. 
  • For current Penguin Hall students, post your community cleanup on social media with #APH_communitycleanup. Students can also earn house points for the coveted Pebble Cup!
  • While you’re outside, don’t forget to join Strava and help Penguin Hall Circle the Globe and reach 24,901 miles! 

Lily’s initiative to help make our environment a little healthier also has a lot of benefits for one’s own health. According to many health professionals being outdoors is a great way to improve our mental and physical health. So after your delicious Thanksgiving dinner, why not get outside, take a walk and pick up some trash. The planet and your community will thank you!