A Michigan organization with a lofty goal is bringing its cleanup efforts to a Monroe Park.
Great Lakes Great Responsibility is hosting a shoreline cleanup April 30 at Sterling State Park. The organization began in November, 2020, and is on a mission to collect 1 million pieces of trash from the Great Lakes.
“In our first cleanup season, we were able to remove 100,000-plus pieces, and we are hoping to double, triple or even quadruple that number in 2022, our second full cleanup season,” Meag Schwartz of Alpena, organization founder, said. “We are currently at 116,00-plus pieces of trash removed. We have several cleanups scheduled, from Monroe all the way up to Marquette. This will be the first organized cleanup we have done on Lake Erie. Our work is the last line of defense for our Great Lakes.”
The cleanup at Sterling State Park will take place from 10 a.m. to noon April 30 at the park, 2800 State Park Rd. The event will be held rain or shine. Volunteers will collect trash and then count the number of items assembled. More volunteers are needed.
“We've only gotten a few RSVPs so far, but we are hoping to get 50-plus volunteers. We need volunteers who are passionate about keeping our Great Lakes' waters clean,” Schwartz said. “Many hands make light work. If you're planning to join, please RSVP at www.greatlakeslove.org. We will have a prize drawing for the most trash removed.”
Much litter is expected at the park.
“With the River Raisin draining just south of the park, the litter will be plentiful. Based on data from other cleanups and published Great Lakes litter studies, we plan to find a significant amount of plastics, microplastics, cigarette butts, balloons and fast food items. Volunteers will count how many pieces of trash they remove during the cleanup event and we will weigh the trash to measure our impact,” Schwartz said. “Spring is a critical time to remove litter from land before it becomes marine debris and works its way into aquatic ecosystems, including our drinking and recreation waters."
All supplies will be provided, but volunteers also can bring their own.
“We appreciate anyone who wants to bring their own bucket, gloves and trash grabber,” Schwartz said. “Volunteers should come dressed for the weather with closed-toed shoes for safety.”
Other event sponsors are Great Lakes Great Living and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources/Michigan State Parks.
Schwartz said volunteers recommended the organization offer a cleanup at Sterling.
“This will be our first time holding an organized cleanup at Sterling State Park, but we have had individual volunteers remove trash from this park in the past and actually have had volunteers recommend doing an organized cleanup at this location. The park really needs some marine debris removal help,” Schwartz said.
Area resident Greg Milatz recently learned about Great Lakes Great Responsibility. He regularly picks up trash at Sterling and agrees the cleanup effort is greatly needed.
“I stumbled across this organization via social media, and they are doing awesome things," Milatz said. "When I walk, hunt, fish, etc. (at Sterling State Park), I typically carry an empty bag with me. My hope is that it is empty when I get home. However, it seldom is. It is usually full of litter collected during my activities. My hope is that this event floods Sterling with people wishing to volunteer, and that awareness is raised about the problem of littering."
Those unable to attend the April 30 event can still contribute to Great Lakes Great Responsibility's Great Lakes 1 Million Challenge. At any time, area residents can pick up trash in the Great Lakes basin, which includes all of Michigan, and log the number of pieces removed at www.greatlakeslove.org.
On the Net: www.greatlakeslove.org and instagram.com/greatlakesgreatresponsibility/
This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Cleaning up Sterling State Park for Earth Day