'A rollercoaster of emotions,' Vernon paddleboarder's lake clean up continues - InfoNews

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'A rollercoaster of emotions,' Vernon paddleboarder's lake clean up continues

Aaron Nasipayko's paddleboard. Nasipayko set out over one month ago to clean up garbage from the lake shore. He still has a long way to go.
Image Credit: Aaron Nasipayko'
May 05, 2019 - 12:00 PM

VERNON - When Aaron Nasipayko set out on his paddleboard on Kalamalka Lake, he was hoping to make a difference and maybe pick up any garbage he encountered.

"I knew there was a bit of a problem, but I never anticipated what I'd find," Nasipayko said.

Aaron Nasipayko
Aaron Nasipayko
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Aaron Nasipayko

With two plastic crates strapped to his paddleboat and his custom made 'Make Kal Lake Great Again' baseball cap, Nasipayko has been paddling the lake looking for garbage — and found plenty of it.

Five weeks after Nasipayko set off on his inaugural paddleboard clean up mission he's filled six garbage bags full of trash and collected 213 cans and bottles. He's also pulled out an old pallet.

Since his first trip March 30, Nasipayko has been out five times on the lake and paddled 48 kilometres covering 19 km of shoreline. He plans on completing the entire 42 km long shoreline of Kal Lake and estimates it'll take him until the end of May.

The idea to paddle the lake and collect garbage came in part from a mammoth paddle in 2018. Nasipayko paddled the length of Okanagan Lake in 18 hours, raising money for North Okanagan Hospice Society.

Lacking the time to train for another epic paddleboard journey but still eager to achieve something, Nasipayko changed his focus to the clean-up.

"I wanted to at least go out and paddle for a reason," he said. "So I thought 'okay I'll go and cover the shorelines and pick-up the trash that's around the perimeter of the lake.'"

He identified some hot spots where he knew a lot of trash had washed up, but he says he wasn't expecting to find such a sheer volume of trash, some of it sitting around for years.

Nasipayko's journeys heading out into the lake have also given him time to reflect on the deeper meaning of what he is doing.

"It’s a rollercoaster of emotions," he said. "One minute you're memorized by the beauty of the day, the next you have deep frustrations of having to pick up after others and their complete disregard for the environment. Each paddle is changing the way I think about how we consume, the problems that we have and continue to create."

Nasipayko shrugs off any notion that what he's doing is saving the public purse what ordinarily would be a costly cleanup. The only costs he can really think of is how beat up his paddleboard is getting constantly dragging it on to the shore.

Once he's covered the entire shoreline Nasipayko says he'll move into another project, although what that is he doesn't yet know. One thing he's sure of though is that he's sure, "this is just the beginning."

And how does he feel about what he's achieved?

"There are so many measurements of success, you have the satisfaction of getting a lot of exercise and the distances covered, and there is how much garbage is collected," he said. "I think the biggest success would be the day I come back with nothing."


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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