Although the Blue Verve Project team is over a thousand miles from the coast, we are connected to the ocean physically through our local waterways. Our actions upstream directly impact ecosystems downstream. To step in and act on plastic pollution in our own community, Blue Verve Project enlisted the help of the Sherpani team last week to clean up Boulder Creek. It was the perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving as it gave us time to reflect on all that we are grateful for and give back to the community. Plus, a morning outside was a much-needed break from our desks!
Boulder Creek runs right through the middle of town. It’s a center of recreation for fishermen, joggers, bikers, and even whitewater kayakers. However, this central space also accumulates a lot of trash. I know there’s a lot of trash in the world--292 million tons from the US alone--but it shocked me to see how much of it ends up littered, especially in a town known for environmentalism.
Among the fallen leaves were wrappers, packages, bags, cardboard, and even stranger items like vinyl records, bike handlebars, and a wooden cabinet. Over just a quarter-mile stretch of the creek, our small team filled 10 bags with garbage.
Some of the trash had obviously been left by careless creek visitors, like the empty cans scattered next to the box they came in. Much of it was unrecognizable fragments, broken down along the journey from a sidewalk or overflowing trash can to the creek.
Seeing plastic wrappers floating alongside a pair of mallards made me realize that every small piece does make a difference. While I can’t solve the global pollution crisis by picking up trash out of Boulder Creek, I can keep my local ecosystem—including the human ecosystem—healthy. Beyond protecting the ducks, keeping trash out of the creek keeps the space safe for all wildlife, and usable for the community. Most importantly, keeping our local spaces clean sends the message that we care about where our waste ends up.
This message was readily received by a community eager to change the pollution problem they see every day. The most gratifying part of our day was stopping to talk with passersby who appreciated our work, and mentioned how important it was to them personally to keep green spaces trash-free. It was so rewarding to see support for Blue Verve Project’s mission supported in the local community.
Along with bags of trash, we walked away from our creek cleanup with a better idea of how we are all connected to ocean plastics. Picking up trash was a good reminder that we need to be mindful of where our trash goes because every little piece adds up. Each of us contribute a tiny piece of the problem, but we also all have the opportunity to be a part of the solution. Together, we represent a community that values clean waterways and healthy ecosystems – and that’s a message worth spreading through action.
The whole team truly had fun at our upstream cleanup. You can get out and help cleanup your community, too! You never know who else you might inspire with your actions.