By Juliana Gonzalez
On April 23rd nearly 400 people turned out at creek sites across the East Bay for a massive scavenger hunt. They were not searching for Easter eggs or chocolate, but rather for little pieces of trash, water bottles, forgotten toys, balls and food wrappers that have ended up in the creek banks or shorelines of the East Bay. In just a few short hours, volunteers picked up 3,100 pounds of trash from eight creek and shoreline locations set up by The Watershed Project and our partners. The most common items found continued to be Styrofoam pieces, cups and plates, and the ubiquitous plastic water bottle.
The results show an improvement from previous years, when the same number of volunteers collected over 5,000 pounds of trash from the same sites. Despite this heartening step in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to be done to stop trash from strangling our streets, creeks and oceans.
The Watershed Project is hopeful that the trashiest sites in the East Bay will be kept cleaner due to rising watershed and anti-littering awareness and the reduction of plastic packaging, bags and Styrofoam containers from the markets.
Reflecting on the event, I hope that this past Earth Day cleanup allowed the neighbors to connect with their natural surrounding and with each other, and that it brought the creek closer to people’s lives. I hope that by bringing volunteers to work by the creek we can foster a renewed sense of connection with the natural beauty flowing through our cities.
Thank you to all the volunteers who came out to help keep local creeks healthy and open for public enjoyment.
By the way, we did find a message in a bottle. It was loud and clear and said: There is a giant mess in the creeks and oceans and we need your help to clean it up!
We would like to thank our local sponsors and our partners for their contributions to make Earth Day 2011 a success: El Cerrito Natural Grocery Store, Grocery Outlet, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Raley’s, New York Bagels, Starbucks, REI, Five Little Monkeys, Solano Avenue Cyclery, Vera Healing Arts, Contra Costa Public Works, East Bay Regional Park District, the City of Albany, SPAWNERS and Making Waves.