Student initiative aims to ‘lessen the mess’ of St. Patrick’s Day festivities

A student-led initiative hopes to keep the mess off the streets during St. Patrick’s Day events in the University District in 2020 so they don’t look like this scene from Homecoming weekend 2019. Photo by Lucas Mulder.

In under a week, four student groups at Queen’s University have organized a clean-up initiative aimed at reducing the mess of garbage that often accompanies the St. Patrick’s Day parties in the University District.

Under the lead of Sarah Witiuk, Founder of Queen’s Events Promotion, the four student groups –  Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change, Queen’s Events Promotion, Queen’s Squirrel Watching Club, and Trips by Transit – will ensure that pop-up garbage and recycling bins will be located strategically at intersections in the University District on Saturday, Mar. 14, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. While St. Patrick’s Day actually falls on Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2020, student festivities are planned for Saturday.

“Most people don’t realize this, but there’s no public garbage cans anywhere in the University District, which always leads to a huge mess, so I wanted to do something proactive to help,” said Witiuk. “It’s an idea of mine that I’ve had for a while – let’s be proactive, we know the party is going to happen – and with the help of environmental clubs on campus, it’s becoming a reality.”

Throughout the day Saturday, a team of volunteers will work in shifts to replenish garbage bins and sort recycling. After the event, organizers will bring the sorted trash to municipal waste sites, and empty cans and bottles will be returned to The Beer Store to help cover costs.

“Organizers hope this initiative will help keep the environment safe and clean – leading to a more sustainable St. Patrick’s Day tradition,” Witiuk said.

Departments, organizations and individuals interested in ‘sponsoring a bin’ to help cover the costs of this initiative can email [email protected] by Friday, March 13, 2020 at noon for more information. Students will be decorating the bins with sponsors’ logos/colours on Friday, Mar. 13, 2020.

Those wanting to volunteer can sign-up online for shifts using the form on

This student initiative will run in tandem with two other student-organized clean-up events, one on Saturday, Mar. 14, and the other on Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2020 in the University District.

Dr. David Walker, Special Advisor to the Principal on Planning and Preparation for COVID-19 at Queen’s University, is urging students to exercise caution with St. Patrick’s Day festivities planned in the coming days. Read more about that here.

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