To help the environment, this Paradise teacher is picking up hundreds of discarded shopping bags

Chesley West, a junior high school teacher, has pulled hundreds of littered reusable shopping bags from ditches and wooded areas in the St. John’s area. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

A Paradise man is giving new life to the reusable shopping bags he finds littered across the Avalon Peninsula. 

Chesley West, a junior high school teacher, told CBC News one particularly trash-strewn area is near Pitts Memorial Drive and Galway in St. John’s.

“There’s a lot of reusable bags. Garbage, but specific garbage. Garbage that can be reused,” West said. “I found a lot more than I bargained for. Some would say I was left holding the bag.”

West said his cleanup plans began in the spring as the snow began to melt, uncovering trash in ditches and wooded areas along busy highways.

He said reusable bags are among the most common items thrown away — in one location alone he has collected hundreds of them already, with hundreds of them still waiting to be picked up. 

West says hundreds of discarded reusable shopping bags are littering the area of Pitts Memorial Drive near Galway in St. John’s. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Most of the bags West finds are still in good shape. He takes them home to wash.

“There’s definitely value on these bags and to see them just here breaking down over time is both a loss to the environment from the clutter that it’s causing and the pollution and also a loss to people’s pockets,” he said. 

“There’s literally thousands of dollars worth of reusable bags here.”

His goal is to donate the bags to community organizations and food banks. 

For anyone who wants to chip in on the effort, West said safety is the top priority. 

“Be seen when you’re out here. Wear gloves,” he said.

And remember Newfoundland’s windy weather, he advised.

“When you’re anywhere in this part of the world, hang on tight to your bags when you open your car door. Save your money and save the environment.”

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