Last weekend, I participated for the second year in a row in my city’s Earth Day cleanup. I had honestly been looking forward to it for months. My assignment for this year was cleaning up a baseball field and the surrounding area down the street from where I live. I’m always surprised that I don’t know a lot of people who participate in these cleanups — I want to do them more than once a year! So I thought I’d put together the Top 5 things I like about doing neighborhood cleanups.
- You can actually see the results. I once volunteered taking tickets at an art festival, and I just didn’t feel like it was time well spent. Yes, it was raising money for a good cause and yes, those people needed someone to put the admission bands on their wrists, but I couldn’t see a visible positive change from beginning to end. Looking at a park or part of a neighborhood that used to be strewn with bottles and plastic bags, and seeing it covered instead with nothing but grass and dirt, while you feel your garbage bags fill up is where it’s at.
- You can have more pride in where you live and the people there. Nothing says “We don’t care about our city, so why should you?” or “We’re too lazy to carry our garbage in the house and properly dispose of it” like roadways lined with trash, greeting visitors on their way into town. Impress people with where you call home!
- I just know Mother Earth appreciates being able to breathe and grow without plastic, broken glass and old tires stifling her.
- It gets you outside and moving! Saturday’s cleanup was from 8 a.m. to noon and it was a beautiful, sunny day. By lunchtime, I had already been productive and enjoyed hours in the gorgeous spring weather.
- It can inspire others. I really don’t shout it from the rooftops when I do things like this. I don’t want to seem snobby or like I’m trying to make people feel bad for not taking part. But I should talk about it more and be proud. Maybe it would be like peer pressure, but to do good. Last year, I did it alone, but this year, my boyfriend joined me. He had done cleanups with his work in past years, but I don’t think he would have done it this year without me asking, “Why not do it?”
- The careless people don’t win. Sure, it’s kind of annoying to clean up someone else’s garbage because they didn’t care to, but people are less likely to litter in places where it doesn’t already exist. So I like to think that by cleaning up littered areas, we’re making it more likely that people think twice before throwing trash where it doesn’t belong.
- You get to be part of something bigger. Something that’s doing good. There are 180,000 people in my city and about 1,000 people take part in these annual cleanups. It feels good to be a part of that group and to help it grow.
(Special thanks to the Regional Environmental Council of Central Mass. for setting up Worcester’s cleanups!)