Monday, April 19, 2010

Hackensack Riverkeeper Cleanup: In Photos

Remember what fun the hippie-themed Hackensack Riverkeeper volunteer appreciation party was? Here's a glimpse at what the volunteers are up to.

Sunday was the official kick-off of the river cleanup season, always in Overpeck County Park in Leonia.

Volunteeers can cruise on the canoes if they choose, but I stuck by the shoreline.

Like last year, I hit a far end of the park. This time, I was with three gentlemen. In under two hours, we had 25 garbage bags filled with trash. Here's what we found.

Many of these areas were tricky to get to, and involved going down a slope and crouching under branches and overgrowth. But it was worth it to save these plastics from floating into the water.

If you feel like it's like cleaning up a landfill, you're right on track: this park was built on a landfill. Garbage is protruding from the Earth and into the waterway. But it is not all landfill waste. Much of it is clearly recent.

This plastic bag revealed its age: 2 years.

The scene repeated itself everywhere.

One of my fellow volunteers.

Just one of our three piles.

A salvaged tv.

By lunch time, this what was in the dumpster (and this wasn't everything). Lisa, the volunteer coordintor, said they were running out of bags. She brought 400.

This dog even got involved in the clean-up! But mostly, he provided a much-needed smile on our faces.

They graciously fed us. For breakfast, donuts and coffee. For lunch, pizza.

A nice healthy salad.

The next clean-up is tentatively set for Sunday, May 2nd, from 11 AM - 4 PM at KBG Park in River Edge. Click here for the full list.

If you aren't fortunate enough to have a group like the riverkeeper in your community, consider doing a park clean-up on your own. There is no shortage of trash. When my sweetheart and I took our four-mile walk in Ridgewood on Easter, the trail was littered with trash. Even one bag helps.

Once upon a time, I bought bottled water (why, I have no idea). I stopped for coffee and got it in a disposable cup. I didn't always use reusable bags. But these clean-ups have changed my life. Consider the amount of waste we produce and how we can reduce our impact.

This wasn't my only clean-up of the day. More about that in the next post. I'll give you a hint: last time, it yielded a Beatles CD, and then some.


Chessbuff said...

Congrats on the cleanup. A lot of junk in a matter of one year! That salad looks great.

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks very much! I'll take this type of workout instead of the gym any day.

One of the three men I cleaned up that area with says he actually comes himself during the year to put a dent in it. It's us vs. the landfill, and inconsiderate people who don't recycle.

That salad was delicious.

Elaine said...

Bravo! This is the kind of work I want my kids to start doing. Something like this might really drive home the point that *everything* we do has a consequence. Plus, I know I always feel better after a few hours of volunteering. Good for the soul!

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks Elaine. That would be so great if your kids could do something similar. I was so excited to see kids of all ages turn up at these clean-ups.

It really does give you perspective that when you throw something "away," it doesn't mean gone. But once out of sight, most don't think about it.

Just one day volunteering at a food pantry when we threw 20 percent of donations in the trash (due to expiration dates) opened up my eyes about food waste forever. Our society seems so wasteful with everything.

ConsciouslyFrugal said...

I know this isn't very enlightened of me, but I would like to enact a new law--you litter, you get 50 of the item you tossed throw at your head. Bottled water? Well, gimme that puppy back, let me fill it up and then toss it against your skull 50 times.

I wonder if that would change people's ways? ha!

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

I thought how nice it would be if bottled water company employees came to these clean-ups. I actually think they should be charged environmental clean-up fees. They can at least pay their fair share for profiting off of something that comes out a tap.

As if the bottles aren't bad enough, they come wrapped in plastic packaging for transport. That surely doesn't get recycled.

I was asking my boyfriend why he doesn't think more Americans bring their reusable bags to the store. He said, "Charge them $1 a bag. See how fast they change."