Come and revive your connection to your neighbors, environment, and the Chesapeake Bay at the 23rd Annual Clean The Bay Day, this Saturday, June 4th.
If you are reading this, then chances are good that you live in the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay.
That means you, dear reader, play a direct role in the sustainability of this bountiful natural resource. You are directly connected to the watershed and it to you. Did you know that? How often do you think about it, if ever?
This Saturday, June 4th, from 9 AM to 12 PM EST is the 23rd Annual Clean the Bay Day. My path to Clean the Bay Day began with family walks through my neighborhood. After seeing litter at every step, we started carrying and filling used grocery bags, then trash bags. Eventually, our family walks were transformed into family neighborhood cleanups. Inevitably, the family got over it. “Hey gang, let’s go out and pick up trash” is not a great selling point. Still, the experience effected all of us.
We learned that plastic bottles were the thing we picked up most. Our proximity to convenience stores, grocery stores and fast food restaurants translated into lots of chip wrappers, plastic bags and sandwich boxes. Our discarded conveniences piled up in the lush vegetation that was everywhere by mid May. (What happens when there is no lush vegetation?) Sometimes we found big messes, too, like the abandoned homeless encampment at the outskirts of the neighboring church lot. We did more than pick up trash, though. We also experienced our neighborhood in new and interesting ways. We played in parks and open spaces. We saw wildlife. We met neighbors. We looked at our surroundings from a different perspective. We saw how our storm water system is like a superhighway of trash, especially when it rains. We knew that others saw it, too.
In 2008, my family and I made up our minds to organize a neighborhood cleanup. Seventeen people joined us that year. We filled up fifteen trash bags cleaning approximately two square miles. In 2009 our neighborhood joined The Chesapeake Bay Foundation for Clean the Bay Day. Twenty seven people filled 47 bags that year. Together with the bicycle, wooden palettes, 2 kiddie pools, carpet, and the woman’s purse with ID we hauled 1,375 pounds of trash from storm water drains and the shores of the Lynnhaven River. In 2010 the neighborhood schools joined and 80 people turned out. In addition to the 60+ bags filled, we emptied an illegal dump of a washer & dryer, a TV, a plastic swing set and yards of PVC pipe. Did you know that a car battery contains 18 pounds of lead and about 5 pounds of sulfuric acid? I don’t know how many batteries are polluting our waterways, but I know we’ve found a few.
Each year we haul everything to the front of the neighborhood for pickup by the city. The amount of traffic at the intersection makes it a great spot for residents to see our results as the they enter and leave the neighborhood. By 2011, we started a community event that gets residents out in the neighborhood for a few hours in order to experience their connection to The Chesapeake Bay. Last year, overall, 7,430 volunteers cleaned 217,461 pounds of debris from 419 miles of shoreline across 245 sites. I invite you to join us.
Remember, if you are reading this then you live in the bay’s watershed and play a direct role in its health and sustainability. Get out there and let others know how much that matters to us all.
Want to help? It’s no too late. Every first Saturday in June is an opportunity to experience one of the many threads that bind this connection. Join over 7,000 people who will be out that morning caring for the Chesapeake Bay by cleaning it. You will soon realize the experience is much more than picking up trash (a good thing in its own right). All you have to do is show up.