“It’s like a dirty Easter egg hunt!” exclaimed one of my fellow volunteers during the 2018 Riverkeeper Sweep in Piermont, NY. I cannot think of a better description! It was fun and encouraging to be part of a united, enthusiastic effort to clean up the environment around our part of the Hudson River. We are all someone’s upstream and someone’s downstream!
Thanks to Riverkeeper, Keep Rockland Beautiful, The Piermont Pier, and Tallman Park Pool for making the cleanup experience feel like a party. In addition to a cleaner environment and a fun time, I received new gardening gloves to pick up the trash with, Morning Glory flower seeds to take home and plant, coffee and a bagel, information to read further about Rockland County and composting, not to mention pool passes to Tallman Park Pool Club! Apparently, there were also local bars serving free beer for volunteers in the afternoon, but I had to be at work so I missed that part of the party.
It is heartbreaking to see how much waste we as a human population still produce and mindlessly dispose of, harming our ecosystems and ourselves in the process. I am as complicit in this wasteful consumption as the next person. I have eliminated plastic bags from grocery shopping! However, I still have a long way to go. For example, I spend way too much money at Starbucks on coffee/tea to-go each month, and I’m always losing my reusable cup…
At the sweep, I picked up so many forms of washed up pollution on the ground and in the reeds along the water, from the large and undeniable to the small and seemingly negligible (but still there – and relatively big to other creatures): plastic bags, bottles, caps, straws, tampon applicators, styrofoam in all forms, fishing wire! Way too much fishing wire, really….
I left reminded of this throbbing question: How can we be more proactive and reduce the amount of waste we produce in the first place? This must be one of the most critical questions of our time on this Earth.
If we want to share a beautiful and healthy environment with each other and our children, and all the oncoming generations – if we want them to have access to clean water and air, as well as all the other beings on this planet – how can we make choices everyday that move us individually and collectively into a sustainable lifestyle?
Botany side note! We also found water caltrops (also known as bat nuts, buffalo nuts, devil pods, bull horns) at the Piermont Pier during the sweep. Interestingly, these plants are classified by some as an invasive noxious weed and by some as an edible, valuable, even religiously important, nut-fruit. More on Water Caltrop…