LIVING SUSTAINABLY: Join the Macatawa Cleanup for a Healthier Waterway
By Carolyn Ulstad, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
Trash, litter, debris – whatever you want to call it – has sadly become more and more common in our waterways. It’s sad because it’s not only unpleasant for us to look at, but it can also have a negative impact on wildlife.
Trash comes in many shapes, sizes and materials, but in recent years most of it is plastic. When plastics enter the water, they break down by wave erosion and the sun’s powerful UV rays. This can lead to chemicals leaching into the water, creating a less than pristine living environment.
To make matters worse, plastics also love to attract toxins! Their porous surfaces are like magnets for the stuff. More research is needed to know exactly how it could impact the food web. Regardless, it’s likely not healthy for birds and fish that often confuse small plastic fragments for food.
By now, I’m hoping that you are at least a little troubled by the thought of plastic floating in our water and lining our rivers and lakes. Mostly I’m hoping that you are asking yourself what you can do about it.
First, try to limit using plastic as much as possible. When it is used, dispose of it responsibly. This also goes for trash you may find that is not your own. If you see it, pick it up. Make sure to recycle at your home and check with your local hauler to know what items are accepted. You can also get involved in area cleanup events.
Cleanup efforts have been ongoing for many years in the Holland area, with one set for this Saturday. The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (MACC) and the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway (ODCMG) have been jointly holding spring and fall cleanups for 10 years.
Participating is a lot of fun, and bizarre things are always found. Last year a shopping cart was pulled out of the water at one site and a mailbox with its wooden post still attached was recovered at another location. Even a station wagon seat was found once.
To unearth the next big discovery, join the next Macatawa River Cleanup this Saturday, April 29, from 1 to 4 p.m. in Kollen Park.
Volunteers can pick up trash on foot or in kayaks that are provided by ODCMG. All ages are welcome, but organizers do request that anyone under 16 years old be accompanied by an adult. An RSVP is required; contact ODCMG at (616)393-9453 or find the online registration form by going to the event calendar at outdoordiscovery.org.
We hope to see you there!
Carolyn Ulstad is program assistant at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council.
If You Go:
What: Macatawa River Cleanup
When: 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 29
Who: Community volunteers
How: Sign up at (616) 393-9453 or at the event calendar at outdoordiscovery.org
Kayak cleaners.jpg The annual Macatawa River Cleanup, by kayak and by foot, will be held this Saturday.
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.
ABOUT THIS SERIES :
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.