For some, Earth Day only reminds them of childhood activities long ago when they cleaned up a nearby neighborhood and were rewarded for the number of cans they gathered. But for others earth day is no different than what they do every day – being prudent consumers and fully aware of their carbon footprint. I have committed to being more aware of my carbon footprint and strive to consider Earth Day as an every day event. This commitment was energized by taking part in the bi-annual Duwamish Alive river cleanup, held every April and September. Last Saturday, April 16th I participated at Duwamish Waterway Park in South Seattle. The event is sponsored by Soundkeeper Alliance, People for Puget Sound, Environmental Coalition of South Seattle, NOAA, Argosy Cruises, and Alki Kayak Tours to name a few. For a list of all sponsors go to http://www.duwamishalive.org/
During the park beautification shift a few people from the Nature Consortium, my brother, and I tackled the invasive black berry bushes on the banks of the river (see the before photo above) and I have scratches on my arms from the thorns to proof it! I felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with each branch I tore out (see the after photo below). The removal of the invasive weeds allows for the native plants to return taking a small step toward restoring the natural habitat of the area.
In mid afternoon it was our turn to commandeer the kayaks and I was excited! We immediately spotted trash on the opposite side of the river and paddled over to pick it up, Styrofoam! Styrofoam was the most obvious trash on the water and banks, understandable given the industrial nature of the area. But, unfortunately, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and plastic bags were our most commonly gathered trash. The event was eye opening to say the least. With every plastic bag I found I remembered all the times at the grocery store when I forgot to bring my reusable bag. I vowed to be more mindful of having it with me in the future. In the end, my brother and I filled 3 large bags of trash (the most we could safely fit on our kayak). It felt good to contribute this small amount to the total collected by the entire group at the Duwamish Waterway Parkand the total trash gathered from all 13 sites along the Duwamish by approximately 1,100 volunteers all together!
If you are interested in striving to consider Earth Day as an every day event the next clean up sponsored by Soundkeeper Alliance is May 14th where we will be removing trash in Lake Union and Portage Bay. For more information go to http://pugetsoundkeeper.org/programs/partnerships/waterway-cleanups/waterway-cleanups