E.B. White once said, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world or to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” This past spring, I have been lucky enough to do both of these things at once alongside hundreds of incredible volunteers. Weeks later, I am still in awe of the work done by these community members. Thank you to all of you who in one way or another supported our events to celebrate Earth Day. The enthusiasm and joy that these volunteers brought to each event has been energizing and inspiring. Our world and watersheds are far better off because of all of you!
On April 18, over 100 volunteers worked together to clean up the Albany Bulb shoreline. Hundreds of children assisted with the construction and decoration of the Juice Box Monster, a sculpture created by a UC Berkeley student and artist. The sculpture was filled with juice boxes to bring awareness to the mountains of disposable waste created by lunches and snacks. Students at Fairmont Elementary School collected juice boxes throughout the year, and then used it for art and games during an Earth Day Recess. Students at Oceanview Elementary created signs and miniature juice box monsters to reach out to their friends and families. This spring, there were also around 70 volunteers who participated in six creek trash assessments. These volunteers donned rubber boots and gloves to take trash out of several creek “hot spots,” riparian areas known to accumulate trash. The findings were categorized and submitted to Contra Costa County as part of a citizen science project.
Putting these impressive numbers aside, there were countless moments that stood out to me. There was the little boy who spent hours creating art out of juice boxes and adding features to the Juice Box Monster with a giant smile on his face, unaware of anything else going on around him. The two high school students who may have found the strangest items during a clean-up: two large paintings of Marilyn Monroe submerged in Wildcat Creek. The family who sifted through sand together to pick out pieces of micro-trash that would have otherwise ended up harming wildlife. The UC Berkeley graduate students who spent an entire semester researching juice boxes and how to eliminate disposable packaging (take a look at their findings here.) The volunteer who drove out to Bay Point on a Friday morning to help clean up a creek, staying after The Watershed Project staff had to leave in order to make sure that the rest of the area was litter-free. The volunteers who hauled over 30 tires up a steep ravine, cracking jokes the entire time. These are just a few snapshots of the incredible feats I observed over the last several months.
So as summer nears, what will you do to save and to savor our world? Be sure to get out and enjoy your local watershed. There are trails to be hiked, rocks to be turned over, beaches to be explored, picnics to be had. As you savor those summer days with your friends and family, make sure to grab every opportunity you can to save resources as well. Pack a waste-free snack or lunch by using reusable water bottles, cloth bags, and reusable utensils. Pick summer fruits and berries to make your own juice. Pour this delicious concoction into your reusable water bottle and avoid all of the sugar normally added to juice boxes.
So get out there this summer and explore your watershed, waste-free!
Photo Credits: Liza Dadiomov