Volunteers scour the Highland Creek for trash as part of a fall cleanup organized by Centennial College's Environmental Student Society.

When 200 likeminded people roll up their sleeves and get down to work, it’s amazing what can be accomplished.

Recently, Centennial College’s Environmental Student Society (ESS) organized a fall cleanup and rehabilitation of the Highland Creek valley in Scarborough in conjunction with the TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

The society removed 45 bags of trash and recyclables from the valley and planted more than 800 trees and shrubs.

“It was an opportunity for our students and the local community to spend a day rehabilitating the valley ecosystem, as well as improving creek bank stability,” says Centennial professor Michael Gauthier, who helped organize the event.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is dedicated to removing garbage from all shorelines. According to research, 80 per cent of the debris that ends up on Canada’s coastal shores originates inland.

Over the past week, more than 40,000 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup volunteers across Canada picked up shoreline litter that would have otherwise hurt animals in the habitat.

Centennial volunteers added to the effort by not only removing discarded water bottles, plastic bags, Styrofoam and tires from the creek banks, but by planting sapling trees native to Scarborough’s ravines to help stabilize the creek banks.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is coordinated nationally by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. Centennial’s Environmental Protection Technology students compile data on the types of trash collected and the activities that produce this debris.

The Ocean Conservancy uses this information to target, through education and legislation, those behaviours that lead to the pollution of our watersheds and coastlines.