Earth Day began in 1970, when then-Senator Gaylord Nelson (from Wisconsin) saw first-hand effects of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. The spirit and energy of anti-war activism spilled over to the environmental movement, drawing 20 million individuals to rally for environmental action on April 22nd, 1970. Earth Day is about uniting to create a world where we can live and thrive, work and play.
As the Charles River Conservancy (CRC) Volunteer Coordinator, the annual Earth Day cleanup is one of my favorite events during the year. Don’t get me wrong, I love ALL of my volunteer events; this one is just special. As a college student, I always signed up for garbage cleanup events, and we would pick up litter surrounding Coes Pond in Worcester. I was interested in the debris left behind by people, some purposefully and some accidentally. I’ve found things like a McDonald’s drive-through sign, vinyl siding from a house, action figures, a brand-new bicycle, and even a message in a bottle. It was discouraging to find so much garbage, but also highly rewarding to leave Coes Pond so much safer and more scenic than when we started.
|Signage next to stormwater drains along the Charles River. |
Everything that runs off goes directly into the River.
Although my excitement for the Earth Day cleanup probably started back in college (finding all sorts of things being thrown into the local pond), my level of enthusiasm is maintained. This year, on April 20th, literally thousands of people will be participating in this Charles River-wide trash pickup. Last year, an estimated 50 tons of trash were collected, making the Charles River cleaner, healthier, and more beautiful!. We’re lucky to be able to coordinate with some other great nonprofits and groups: the Charles River Watershed Association, who spearheads the cleanup; The Esplanade Association, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Green Decade Newton, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Senator Brownsberger’s Office, and the Waltham Land Trust.
The Conservancy has over 600 people volunteering with us on April 20th for the 14th annual Charles River Cleanup. There are over 25 different companies, non-profits, and school groups represented! Although our sign-up for groups filled up long ago, our drop-in site remained open to individuals and families so come down to the Charles on the 20th. Earth Day with the CRC is about beautifying the parklands, giving back to Mother Earth, and hopefully making some new cleanup memories.
About the Author: Danielle Stehlik is the CRC Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator. She oversees some 2,000 volunteers annually. Those volunteers have donated over 68,000 volunteer hours and $1.4 million labor since 2002.