Cache In, Trash Out at Slater Park

Cache In, Trash Out at Slater Park

Area residents search for both trash and treasure at a previous geocaching event at India Point Park in Providence.
Geocaching event combines fun with environmental friendliness

PAWTUCKET — They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but have they tried picking up trash on the way to treasure?

On Sunday, Sept. 16, the Blackstone Heritage Corridor will host “Cache In, Trash Out” at Slater Park in Pawtucket. The event, a marriage between geocaching and trash cleanup, is part of the BHC’s annual GO! Program. A group will meet at 8 a.m. at the Looff Carousel, 825 Armistice Blvd., and walk the grounds until 11 a.m.

“You’re outdoors and unfortunately people are littering in these parks and beautiful spaces, so why not pick (trash) up while you’re there? Leave it better than you find it,” said Bonnie Combs, marketing director for the Blackstone Heritage Corridor.

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use a GPS receiver, mobile device, or another navigational technique to hide and seek containers, known as “geocaches,” at specific locations marked by coordinates worldwide.

Combs said she hopes the event will expose people to geocaching, leave Slater Park cleaner, and encourage people to protect the area by the Blackstone River Greenway.

Save the Bay will also help with the event in honor of the International Coastal Cleanup, a global event hosted annually by the Ocean Conservancy where volunteers collect and document trash littering the coastline. Last year, nearly 800,000 volunteers came together and removed more than 20 million pieces of trash, according to the organization.

At Slater Park, the group will join thousands of other volunteers worldwide in collecting data for the Ocean Conservancy’s annual global report on marine debris. This report offers information on what the trash problem is like and what items are littered most frequently.

July Lewis, volunteer and internship manager for Save the Bay, said the data aspect helps researchers with identifying the problem and finding trends. She said the report is also used for the creation of public policy.

“We take data on what it is we’re cleaning up and that provides a really comprehensive snapshot of what it is that’s polluting our shores,” said Lewis.

Disposable products from eating, drinking, and smoking are the biggest issue, said Lewis. Cigarette butts top the list globally year after year. According to the Ocean Conservancy’s 2018 report, cigarette butts were followed by plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, food wrappers, plastic grocery bags, plastic lids, and straws and stirrers.

Lewis said urban areas are great for trash cleanups because wherever there are people, there is trash. Trash at Slater Park often ends up in the water, which can have a broader impact than people may realize.

“Anything that ends up in the river ends up in the Bay, and then ends up in the ocean,” Lewis said.

According to geocacher and event coordinator Tracey Belliveau, geocaching and trash cleanup go hand-in-hand. Geocaching inspires people to get outside and explore nature, so participants tend to be environmentally conscious.

“When we find trash in the woods, we will clean it up. One of the main reasons that geocaching started was to get people out into nature,” she said. “Trash in nature is just an awful thing.”

Belliveau compares geocaching to a treasure hunt. She said there is something intriguing about billions of containers hidden around the world that most people don’t know about, and that she hopes this event introduces new people to the fun activity.

Participants are asked to bring their own gloves if they have them and a refillable water bottle. For more information and to register in advance, visit https://tinyurl.com/y8mllprf .

For general questions, email volunteer@savebay.org or call July Lewis at 401-272-3540 ext. 130. For more information on the geocaching part of the event, contact Bonnie Combs at bcombs@BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org or call 508-234-4242.