It was a beautiful sunny morning on Saturday, April 21, 2018. JTW volunteers arrived at Ball-Michel Park in high spirits with the City of Milwaukie and the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District for a SOLVE IT for Earth Day Event. In honor of Earth Day, volunteers gathered to clean-up the park, neighborhood streets, and a nearby portion of the Springwater Trail.
The park hosted several pop-up tents where cheerful volunteers checked people in and provided work gloves, trash pickers, and safety vests. Parents poured coffee and distributed healthy breakfast snacks while children ran about the park playfully pretending to sword fight with their trash pickers (we may have had a little fun with ours as well).
Once everyone was checked in, caffeinated, and armed with supplies, the event kicked off with a warm welcome and an important message about picking up litter from Mark Gamba, the Mayor of Milwaukie. Aside from the obvious eye sore that litter creates, it also has a toxic lifecycle that is harmful to our personal health. For example, someone throws a cigarette butt out of a car window, rain water carries the cigarette butt into a storm drain, which feeds to a river. That river carries that cigarette butt to the ocean where it is ingested by a fish. The fish is caught by a fisherman and then eaten by a person. The person eating that fish is now ingesting chemicals from the cigarette butt. It’s gross, and it’s meant to be, because it’s true and it’s also entirely preventable.
On that note, volunteers were split into groups of four to optimize the amount of space covered. Team JTW elected to cover the Springwater Trail, where we were dismayed to discover the bulk of the litter was, in fact, cigarette butts decomposing unnervingly close to storm drains and Johnson Creek. Since it was a beautiful sunny day, the trail was filled with joggers and cyclists, many of whom took the time to stop and thank us for cleaning up the outdoor space they enjoy so much.
After a couple hours of sacking trash up and down the trail, we returned victoriously to Ball-Michel Park. We dropped off our trash, reluctantly returned the surprisingly fun trash pickers and retired the fashionably fluorescent safety vests. Everyone enjoyed a pizza party in the park for our efforts, and the event ended with an Arbor Day Celebration which included kids' activities, plant giveaways, and a ceremonial tree planting.
This event was part of SOLVE IT for Earth Day, presented by Portland General Electric. SOLVE IT for Earth Day registered over 5,700 volunteers who removed an estimated 47,000 pounds of trash throughout the State of Oregon, and JTW is proud to have participated. Big thanks to all the event organizers, sponsors, and participants for making a difference, improving our environment, and keeping our fish carcinogen-free!