Kahn ’15 Op Ed Published – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Kahn ’15 Op Ed Published

An opinion piece written by Kevin Kahn ’15 was recently published in his hometown paper, The Danbury News Times. Kahn wrote of a local park, Squantz Pond State Park, and the amount of trash he encountered there. He urged people to treat the park better and to take responsibility for their local landmark and keep it clean.
“Are we that disrespectful of nature that we can’t save our trash until we get back to our homes or to a garbage can?” he wrote.

He provides decomposition rates for some of the trash he found there, including shards of glass which take one million years, and urges: “put on some gloves, grab a friend and walk the trails with a plastic bag, picking up any trash that you see. The difference you make could be great.”

The full article follows.


The Danbury News Times
Disappointed at lack of respect demonstrated by visitors to park

December 15, 2011

As a citizen of New Fairfield, it is shocking to see the lack of responsibility and motivation to keep the Squantz Pond State Park clean.

Although I understand that the majority of Squantz’s summer occupants are from out of state, it is up to us to keep the park clean in order to preserve one of New Fairfield’s most beautiful recreational sites.

My sophomore year of high school, I volunteered on a beautiful Saturday morning to clean the park with my mother and about 10 other willing participants. At this point I was reluctant to walk around, picking up crushed beer cans and bottle caps, but once the man-made debris was clear from the beach and the hiking trails, I realized the true beauty of the land.

Since then, I have begun to hike the trails at Squantz and the sheer beauty of the foliage and scenery is breathtaking. If you have not hiked at Squantz, then you are not taking responsibility as a citizen to become enriched in the natural beauty surrounding each and every one of us on a daily basis.

At the beginning of October I returned to New Fairfield for a short weekend off from my studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and I visited Squantz Pond to relax for an abbreviated hike. It was sad to see that although the majority of the park’s visitors stop using the park in mid-September, the ground and the side of the paths was strewn with garbage.

Empty cans of PBR and Keystone Light belong in the recycling, not on the side of a recreational hiking trail that is traveled by dogs and children.

Perhaps the most appalling things that I discovered were the numerous shards of glass that I found as I walked a step or two from the trail. The amount of trash on the path is not only detrimental to the hiking enthusiasts, but we also have to take into consideration that this land belongs to the animals and nature as well.
Are we that disrespectful of nature that we can’t save our trash until we get back to our homes or to a garbage can?

It’s also impressive that people throw things like apple cores and banana peels onto the side of the road with the mentality that these items came from the environment so they must be decomposable. After throwing these things to the side of the trails, they do not simply decompose and disappear right away.

For all of those people out there who think that this is the case, you are sorely mistaken. An orange or banana peel takes two to five weeks to decompose in the environment, an apple core takes two months, a cigarette butt (which I discovered frequently) takes one to five years, glass or a glass bottle takes one million years, and an aluminum can takes 80 to 200 years.

So next time that you consider throwing a can onto a trail or even out your car window, you should know the consequences of your actions. Nothing decomposes immediately!

This misconception is one that must be righted. The native Schaghticoke Indian tribe would not have let this land become saturated with trash as we have. But it’s not too late to help!

Put on some gloves, grab a friend and walk the trails with a plastic bag, picking up any trash that you see. The difference you make could be great.

Kevin Kahn
New Fairfield