Living Sustainably: Volunteers tackle trash – in Holland and globally

By Evan Bright, Dec. 2019 Hope College graduate and intern with the Holland-Hope Sustainability Institute
Volunteers around the world – and in Holland – will flock to streets, rivers, beaches, and forests this Saturday, Sept. 21, in a communal effort to rid our beautiful planet of litter and mismanaged waste.
World Cleanup Day has become a global phenomenon, uniting 18 million volunteers in 157 countries last year. This effort to collect improperly disposed trash began in 2008 in the country of Estonia, where 50,000 people united to clean up the entire country in just five hours.
Estonia’s ambition sparked a movement that looks past race, gender, or social status to focus on the betterment of the planet we all share. World Cleanup Day is a surprisingly simple initiative, not some miracle solution but just a push to act. We all see the problem of mismanaged trash, and we all have the ability to reduce it within our own communities.
Learn more about World Cleanup Day at, with details about the national campaign found at
Locally, a cleanup will focus on our waterfront. In the Holland area, we are fortunate to be surrounded by vast amounts of fresh water that is home to diverse plants and animals. Our abundance of water is a defining characteristic of our community, and a big reason so many people visit. We should take pride in our environment, and this is why the Outdoor Discovery Center and the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council organize semi-annual cleanup days for the Lake Macatawa waterfront. 
“Trash pollution is one of the most prevalent types of pollution in the world today,” notes Kelly Goward of the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council. “It can harm fish and other wildlife and interfere with human recreation.”
Taking part in the waterfront cleanup is a wonderful way for community members to get involved with their community and care for the watershed.
The waterways may appear clean from a distance. But Outdoor Discovery Center staffer Dan Callam pointed out, “(We) typically will gather somewhere between 100 and 200 pounds of trash at each event, although these numbers can vary depending on whether our finds are Styrofoam or car seats – and we’ve found both!” 
In the spirit of World Cleanup Day, the Holland community will have its next cleanup 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday Sept. 21 at two locations – Window on the Waterfront, 20 S. River Ave., or the south end of Kollen Park, at 250 Kollen Park Drive.
Advance registration is required to provide sufficient cleanup supplies. All are welcome, and extra hands are always appreciated. Register online at under “Get Involved.”
Whether or not you can participate in the riverfront cleanup, we can all easily get involved in World Cleanup Day. Go on a small walk in any direction, taking along a bag and gloves, and before too long you’ll find a piece of trash or two to put in its proper place. Take a few seconds to remove a piece of litter from the street and better our community and our planet. 
Our gestures do not have to be grand, but we simply must act.

 Evan Bright is an intern with the Holland-Hope Sustainability Institute, a proud Holland area native, and a Hope College math major graduating December 2019.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

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 institute for more information.