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Gander woman chooses personal lifestyle change with an environmental impact

Sherry Chambers picks up garbage littered along the Trans-Canada Highway and in the bushes in Gander. In just over an hour, four garbage bags are filled with various discarded items. Her motivation is to clean up the surrounding area while getting some exercise.
Sherry Chambers picks up garbage littered along the Trans-Canada Highway and in the bushes in Gander. In just over an hour, four garbage bags are filled with various discarded items. Her motivation is to clean up the surrounding area while getting some exercise.

GANDER, NL – Sherry Chambers has her mind set. She is determined to turn her observation into action.

Chambers can be easily missed as she works her route, picking up garbage along the Trans-Canada highway. She starts at the James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre and ends in the business section along Cooper Boulevard.

“It has been five years since retirement, and it hasn't been what it's cracked up to be,” she told the Beacon. “I was sitting down a lot and gaining a lot of weight.”

Her lifestyle was significantly more active when she worked with tailings, cleaning lunch trailers in a mine for eight and a half years at a Suncor site.

“When you are working and get used to 12-hour shifts and you are on the go – you turn around retire, and you've got nothing to do with your time.

“You can easily get into the rut where you sit on the couch and watch TV and not really pay attention, until you put on few pounds and not feel good about yourself.”

Sherry's revelation for a lifestyle change came one day on a walk in Cobb’s Pond.

“I have to change and get myself out of this rut.  I've got to do something to make myself healthier.”

As she started walking daily, Sherry noticed a lot of garbage around town.   

herry Chambers collecting garbage during her daily walks around Gander.

“For tourists to see so much garbage in the trees, in the ditches – it is unbelievable.  We have a beautiful province here in Newfoundland. We should try to keep it cleaner than we do.”
Chambers approached the town to request garbage bags, and informed them when bags were ready for pick-up. She recalls picking up 85 garbage bags over several collections.

She believes people's attitudes need to change, because the problem is not going away.

“I can guarantee that within three to four days, I can pick up five more bags in the same location.”

Annual clean-up programs are not going to solve the problem, said Chambers.

“There are 365 days in a year. It has to be done more often.”

Chambers believes education goes a long way to minimizing littering. 

“There is absolutely no reason why anybody should throw their garbage out of their car when they can go home to use their garbage can.”

At the same time, she has noticed there are no signs to indicate a fine for littering, something she observed while working in Alberta.

Thanks to her efforts, the surrounding areas looks better, and Chambers is also feeling the benefits of her new lifestyle.

“I've changed my eating habits, lost some weight, and feel better about myself.”

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