Vernon paddleboarder completes epic 315 km lake clean-up | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon paddleboarder completes epic 315 km lake clean-up

Aaron Nasipayko
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Aaron Nasipayko
November 13, 2019 - 3:03 PM

When Vernon paddleboarder Aaron Nasipayko set off on Kalamalka Lake on March 30 to begin cleaning up the shoreline he had no idea what that maiden voyage would lead to.

Now, nearly eight months later Nasipayko has completed the shoreline clean-up of both Kalamalka and Okanagan Lakes finishing the epic effort on Nov. 10.

"I haven't had a ton of time to reflect upon it yet," Nasipayko told when asked how he felt about his achievement. "I'm grateful that I can put my gear away."

Putting in up to 14 hours a day, Nasipayko has spent countless hours since May 5 paddling 315 kilometres of Okanagan Lake collecting garbage from the shoreline.

"I didn't see a lot of friends because I was committed to this, but I had an awesome summer on the water... I don't think I missed anything," he said.

Around 150 volunteers joined in at different points along the way helping to clean up garbage.

Nasipayko said the challenge was exhausting but he didn't consider for a second giving up.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Aaron Nasipayko

"Having a little bit of help along the way inspired me to keep going," he said.

While Nasipayko had company some of the time, spending hours paddling alone, gave him time to reflect on human behaviour.

"It definitely changed the way I think about things and consume," he said. "(I'm) more cautious, making sure I'm doing what I can to reduce waste."

"It's easy to say how can humans do this? But really we need to look at ourselves," Nasipayko said.

The sheer amount of plastic bags and other single-use plastic along the shoreline is immense Nasipayko said.

"The plastic ban... for single-use plastics can't come quick enough, because it's evident it's on our shorelines," he said.

At one point during the clean-up, Nasipayko stumbled on a well-camouflaged and secluded homeless camp that appeared to may have just one person living there. The ground was littered with needles, but with no other signs of life.

Fearing the worse, Nasipayko thought someone may have overdosed. Alone, he wandered up the shoreline and unzipped the deserted tent.

"I was looking to see if anyone was dead," he said. Luckily, that wasn't the case.

Fifty metres down the lake another homeless camp appeared and the people there told him someone did live at the previous camp spot.

"It was somebody's belongings, to me it was a mess, I'm glad a didn't take it because you never know what could have been important to them," he said. "To me, it was just gross garbage."

Unlike Nasipayko's first clean-up paddle around Kalamalka Lake, his trip along the shoreline of Okanagan Lake encountered so much garbage and plastic he was unable to count it. However, he estimates he probably collected a couple of thousand pounds of garbage and plastic from the lakeshore.

So what is his next plan? Nasipayko says he doesn't have one.

"Right now I'm just enjoying not having it on my mind... I just want to relax and see some friends and enjoy what's happened."

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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