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‘Old Ladies Against Underwater Garbage’ cleaning out one pond at a time

<i>WBZ</i><br/>'Old Ladies Against Underwater Garbage' cleaned up Deep Pond in Falmouth in November 2021.
'Old Ladies Against Underwater Garbage' cleaned up Deep Pond in Falmouth in November 2021.

By Jacob Wycoff

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    FALMOUTH, Massachusetts (WBZ) — We’ve all seen it. You’re smack-dab in the middle of a beautiful place in nature, and you see a piece of litter.

Dr. Susan Baur, an 81-year-old avid swimmer, decided she had seen enough trash at the bottom of ponds in Cape Cod, so she wanted to do something about it.

About four years ago, she formed a group affectionately called “Old Ladies Against Underwater Garbage”, or “OLAUG” for short. They’ve been pulling trash from some of the 996 fresh water ponds on the Cape ever since.

“It’s kind of a treasure hunt for stuff that’s not supposed to be there,” Baur told WBZ-TV.

She and her group have pulled all kinds of things out of ponds from golf balls to dog toys to beer cans and Gatorade bottles.

The oddest thing she’s ever found? A garden gnome!

“A treasure on land ceases to be a treasure when it’s under water,” Baur said.

There are a few requirements to consider when joining “OLAUG.” First, you have to be over 64 years old. Secondly, you have to be a proficient swimmer and able to pass a test administered by Baur.

Though the water temperature was a chilly 55 degrees Fahrenheit, that didn’t stop me from joining “OLAUG” on their last dive of the season in Falmouth earlier this month. In a normal year, the group starts diving for trash in May and will wrap up by early October. But the record warmth of summer into fall kept them underwater for a couple of extra weeks this year.

Every piece of trash we found that day was off-loaded onto a kayak, which was out on-the-water trash hauler for the afternoon.

To anyone who thinks getting old means feeling old, Baur and the rest of the group are proving that’s just, well, rubbish.

“One of our secret weapons is we don’t care what we look like. We are encased in black stuff, we can drag stuff out of the pond. We are past the stage where vanity [matters],” said Baur.

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