Picking up trash promotes pride on the bayou!

There’s just not a whole lot to say about picking up trash, except that it’s dirty work, and somebody’s gotta do it.  However, there’s a heck of a lot to say about litter and those who can’t get it through their thick heads to take their trash home with them rather than throw it into the bayou.

An old man once told me he was grown before he realized he wasn’t supposed to fill his empty soda can or bottle with water and sink it to the bottom of the bayou.  That’s what he thought everyone did.

And back then, maybe that IS what everyone did.

Today, boaters don’t even bother to sink their cans or bottles, as indicated by the number of floating beverage containers that have been netted during our wetland tours.

In spite of what seems like endless litter on our waterways and highways, littering is no longer deemed acceptable.  Well-meaning organizations talk about getting into the schools and doing educational anti-litter programs.  While such programs might have great intentions, children mimic what they see parents (and others) do.  Additionally, parents must be proactive about teaching their children not to litter–not even a gum wrapper out the car window.

Further, if you’re a grandparent, you have the wondrous job of helping shape those fresh minds into the new-millennium going-green thinking of recycling and respecting the earth.

Back in 2007, one of my friends and I thought we would put some action behind our dislike for that despicable litter along the waterways.  Thus, the first Bayou DuLarge Trash Bash, a grassroots cleanup, was conceived and birthed in early 2007.

Since our community is a long-time commercial fishing and fast-growing sport-fishing community, there would be lots of potential manpower from which to draw.  But, it’s a well known fact that people will not pick up trash just for the fun of it, so there had to be compelling motivation and incentive to get them to participate.

All we had to do was put out the bait and set the hook to lure in that manpower (and woman power).  The bait was great door prizes and a delicious home-cooked lunch provided after the dumpster was full.  Folks love good food and free stuff.  That was a no-brainer.

The hook was:  “Give something back to the bayou.”  Whether commercial or sport fisherman, we could all relate to having taken plenty from the bayous and feeling obliged to give something back.

An unpublished goal of the cleanup was a hope that commercial and sport fishermen, working side-by-side cleaning up the bayou, would help bridge the gap that exists between them.  Even though they use the same waters, and must abide by the same state regulations, there is often animosity between these two groups.

Here’s the problem:

The commercial folks, as local residents, perceive the bounty of the waters as belonging to them and resent the intrusion of the sport fishermen.  They also resent restrictive legislation brought about by sport fisherman that have negatively impacted their economy.

The sport fishermen, usually weekend warriors, whether local or from out of town, look down their noses at the commercial fisherfolks because of the perception that they over-harvest the resource.

While there is seemingly a great divide between these two bayou benefactor groups, there is also a very huge “catch 22” that will link them as long as there is seafood to be harvested in Louisiana waters.

That “catch 22” is this:

Commercial fisherman should respect and get along with the sport fishermen, because they are the people that purchase and consume the seafood they catch and sell.

Sport fishermen should get along with and respect the commercial fishermen, because they are the hard-working wetlanders who provide the seafood they love to buy and consume.

Our secret hope of a truce was realized as sport and commercial fisher-folks worked together, filling a thirty-yard dumpster to the brim by noon, ate together, and passed a good time.  The second year, in 2008, they filled two dumpsters to overflowing by 11 a.m.  The number of attendees grew from twenty-five the first year, to fifty the next, and about one hundred people each year since.

Another hope behind the idea of the first cleanup, was that news of what Bayou DuLarge was doing would spread to other bayous (there are at least five more inhabited bayous in our parish) and either inspire them or shame them into doing an annual trash bash of their own.  We are proud to announce this year that the communities of Chauvin and Cocodrie on Bayou Petite Caillou held cleanups of their own!  Furthermore, there are rumors that Bayou Grand Caillou will be joining us next year.

Fast forward to 2011, and this past Saturday–The Fifth Annual Bayou DuLarge Trash Bash.  The pictures tell the best story!

The boats ferried people to the bank up and down the bayou.

Two teens beating the bank for trash.

Folks who had their own boats picked up trash and delivered it to the trash dock.

Volunteers waited eagerly at the offloading dock to get their hands on all that nasty flotsam!

Four humans.  Three dogs.  Boat load of trash.  One heavy boat.

Roddy Retriever looks like he’s ready for a swim!

It’s a family affair!

Half-way there, on the second dumpster, and it’s not 11:00 yet!

This coconut was the most interesting piece of trash that was brought to the dock.  It was brought in by this fellow . . .

. . . a local commercial fisherman that many folks were surprised to see taking part.  It was his first year, and it took a little convincing on my part (he’s not crazy about large crowds of strangers), but he definitely brought in the mother lode of trash!  We lovingly call him Bayou Fabio (behind his back!).

The Three Trashateers!

With the two thirty-yard dumpsters filled to overflowing, it was time for lunch at Jug’s Seafood.  Local ladies cooked and served a delicious meal of salad, white beans, and jambalaya.

Dining Room No. 1, filled with happy trash pickers!

Jughead’s Seafood restaurant was literally packed out!

Men only table.

And then there were the door prizes:  Two fishing charters, a night at Camp Dularge, rod and reel combos, ice chests, tackle boxes, Jug’s Seafood gift certificates, Academy Sports gift certificates, a Cajun Bahamas Cruise, T-shirts, and much more–all provided by local businesses!

A great feeling of accomplishment was shared by all who participated in the fifth annual cleanup.

The proof is in the photos!

Beautiful, clean Bayou DuLarge, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.

A deep sense of pride is fostered when folks give of themselves to something that produces immediate results.  In this case, seeing the bayou so clean provided instant gratification to all who helped out.

If you fish anywhere in southern Terrebonne Parish, consider this your challenge for 2012:  Find a bayou trash bash, take part, and give back to the waterways that give so much to you!

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  1. WOW…what a fantastic effort by all to pitch in & “get their hands dirty” – two 32 yard bins is a LOT of trash!

    In similar efforts, I’ve been shocked and saddened that a large percentage o’ the trash around wetlands was left by fishermen – the ones ye’d think had the greatest interest in keeping the waterways clean! In one area there were 4 oil-drum-as-trash-bins around the parking lot and a Saturn’s rings load o’ trash AROUND the lot and the bins (not in them, they were near empty).

    It’s great to see the community effort on all sides working to fix this problem – as ye say, the young ones learn from their folks!

    1. I know, Capt. It has never made sense to me and I have not been able to get any good answers from the people who have lived here for so long and have watched this happen over the years, for several generations. We are trying to change those mindsets, though, one boatload at a time! BW

  2. A very big “Thank You”BW for everything you do to make this a better world.My hat is off to everyone that got out there and cleaned up other peoples mess.I look at it this way,if they’re that lazy about putting trash in a bin,then I sure wouldn’t want to see inside their houses.God bless you and your family.

    1. Well, C.E., we have such a good time that it doesn’t seem like hard work at all! I must admit, though, that I end up organizing things at the offloading dock, and taking the photos, and keeping things running as smoothly as I can. One day, someone else will organize and I can get muddy!! I plan to launch my boat a day before next year, clean up the areas near my home, and then start early the morning of the cleanup, and go by boat and be the first one tied up and waiting to have my boat offloaded when everyone gets there at 7 a.m.!!! That should start things off with a bang!

  3. WOW! I will never understand throwing trash out like
    that.Maybe if the Anti littering laws were enforced better on land , then it might filter down to the water ppl. Parents are mostly at fault here for not teaching the kids bett. I learned young. It only took Once. My stepdad caught me throwing a candybar wrapper out-stopped the car made me walk back and get it and then when we got to the fishing spot made me pick up all the trash in the parking lot and fishing access spot. I for sure never did THAT again.
    Glad to see the trash bash thing is spreading!!!

  4. Thanks for the post. I agree. Kids do what they see their parents, grandparents and peers do so it does start with us. I love the idea of a community cleanup. maybe I can get something going here on Lake Erie

    1. That would be wonderful! Lake Erie? Is that anywhere near Buffalo? LOL! I was in Buffalo in February–spoke at a Bayou Cross Cultural Conference at Genesee Community College in Batavia. Snowed all day long, and it was beautiful. Planning on going back later this summer. Thanks for stopping by! We fish here, too!

  5. Trash is everywhere. Open barrels and some dumpsters get emptied by raccoons etc too. This causes litter to be recycled back to litter. Great to see the turnout.

  6. I salute all who helped make the bayous a cleaner place. I think the after photos are great and really show folks what a fantastic, beautiful place you have and can have with only a little effort.

    I can’t stand litter bugs! And our yard is a constant battle ground of litter since it is on a corner. We have to clean it daily almost.

    I don’t think people realize that not only is litter unsightly but, also it is nasty, can carry diseases and is dangerous. A few years ago, a lady I knew was ejected from a vehicle in an accident and slid across a broken beer bottle that had been tossed in the ditch. She was in critical condition for days and was lucky to live but, has a scar about 3 ft. long.

  7. Very few days go by where I don’t pick up someones trash floating or fishing line wrapped around the wheel,I think plastic bottles and bags should be outlawed in every state and go back to glass containers with a deposit on them.

    1. Ronnie, I failed to put it in the story, but Bayou Fabio said something to me that warrants a question. How can we get crabbers to stop throwing their wax-coated cardboard bait boxes and plastic liners into the water? It must be a space issue on the boat, and they are just too lazy to throw them out when they get back home. It’s not just local people, because we have crabbers who come here from miles away to fish.

      1. BW,this goes back to parents teaching their young’uns better,we have that problem here too and it PMO,I quit buying crabs just a month ago after coming up the river behind him and finding his bait boxes and liners floating less than a mile from the ramp,we have a new group of “young guns” who are LEO’s for the FWC and I am going to approch them about watching some of these crabbers leave in the morning,counting bait boxes and being at the ramp when they come in to ask what they did with them,plastic in the water,even a drink bottle can be prosecuted under Federal law with a large fine in the thousands.It’s not a space issue just sorryness.

        1. O,we did have a local write a letter to the editer a few years ago asking about all the :”Chicken” boxes floating in the water that a cruise ship must have thrown over board,he knew better and it did slow it down for a while.

  8. Wow on all that trash collected. You missed Day 1 of the Bayou Lafourche paddle and all the trash we had to paddle through. It was unreal. There was a mile long section of the bayou that we paddle that was literally covered in trash.I had never seen so much trash in my life.

  9. Wonder where the coconut came from? It’s such a great idea to get out and make a fun day of such a dismal task. My kids love walking the lake shore here and picking up trash and finding “treasures”. Maybe their generation will be the one to clue in on how valuable our resources are and that our ancestors gave us these lands to protect and nurture. Our tribe has really gotten into environmental protection (as have a lot of others) and it’s really made an impact in our area.

  10. It’s really sorry that a community has to have a “Trash Bash” to clean up other peoples litter. It chaps my arse! I’ve seen people at marinas, ball parks, etc. toss trash at a can and miss, then won’t take 2 steps and bend over and pick it up!

    1. Your comment makes me wonder if there’s a community in our state that has not seen at-risk youth or law breakers picking up trash along its highways.

  11. Even more shocking than seeing Bayou Fabio participating is seeing him wearing…. SHOES!