Okay, so all our neighbors aren’t as cool and conscious as I want them to be. I pick up stray trash items around the yard almost daily and my husband has graciously collected neighborhood trash by the bagful in our alleyway. I personally have never intentionally littered, but apparently some people still do it (…so weird). More often though, our local litter comes from people who don’t take the responsible actions to make sure their trash and recycling are secured when the inevitable wind, rain, or snow storm comes around. The long and short of it is that our neighborhood needed some help, and this year we reached out to make an effort on a larger scale.
At a local neighborhood street festival I struck up a conversation with an environmental group who does creek clean ups. I mentioned our area (which has a creek running through it) and asked if they had any resources or connections to organize a clean up here. In a few months time they had organized a date, had a Captain assigned, and I offered to help get the word out to our local community.
First off I called my friend who works at the local private school; she also lives in the neighborhood and shares my desire for a cleaner space. She was able to have their Principal send out word of the event in her regular weekly messages to the school community. She also became a “point man” for any of those interested in participating.
Next, I worked with the Home and School Committee at my son’s public school (in the same neighborhood) in the same way. I spoke at their meetings inviting school families and neighbors to participate in beatifying our area. An email from the Home and School Board President and robocall from the Principal went out with my information as well. I also got contacts for the local girl and boy scout troops through the elementary school secretary.
Then I put out an email to all the Middle School science teachers encouraging them to share the info with their students too. I was told they do a lesson about the creek’s ecology, so this was the perfect tie in with that. Some of the teachers said they would offer extra credit for those who would participate too. A similar call was put into the Honor Society at the local high school…older students need those volunteer credits for college you know!
Finally, I made the plea to local friends, neighbors and even a neighborhood civic association to come out and support the cause.
The DCVA provided the gloves, trash bags, and snacks. They also arranged the trash pickup with the township’s sanitation department.
All in all we had 51 volunteers show up. We pulled 90 bags of trash, 2 bikes, 3 scooters, 2 shopping carts, various construction and gardening tools, a tarp, carpets, trash can lids, and a huge vinyl kiddie pool. The creek and woods look lovely!
It was tiring, but fun. The weather was a beautiful and it was so good to see neighbors getting together to do something good. I think it was also good to be SEEN doing something good. You never know if our presence planted the seed in someone to make better choices and care more for their environment. Best yet, it definitely was a good lesson for all the kids that were involved – you can make a difference if you try. It’s a lesson that us adults may be a little too jaded to remember sometimes; but this was a real, tangible way to see how a couple hours can make a difference.
Hopefully next year we can repeat this effort and success. Until then…I’ll be doing my part, will you?
(*Check out this other Earth Day Activity I did with the kids*)