Saturday, August 31, 2019

Week 2: Third Coast Cleanup


If you know me, are Facebook friends with me, or have glanced at my Instagram for even a second, you know I LOVE nature, getting my hands dirty, climbing trees, wading through streams, hiking, adventuring through this great world. 

I'm incredibly grateful to have lived 44 years on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, AKA the world's largest source of fresh water! It makes every sunrise more beautiful, the winters a little less frigid, and was the reason I learned navigation at an early age (Lake Michigan = East). 

Passing along a love for The Lake is one of my most favorite things to do as a parent. We have an extensive fossil, rock, and sea glass collection. Heart-shaped rocks ring the trees in our yard and sit on the window ledges in our home. Rock tumblers run 24 hours a day in our basement. I have no doubt my legacy will live on.

But this summer's adventures to the Lake have been a bit more challenging due to the record high water level. We have gotten creative in our times of day to go (when the tide is low) and have ventured to beaches not visited before (more touristy and crowded). 

We left a recent trip to McKinley Beach located near downtown Milwaukee feeling downtrodden and depressed at the large amounts of trash thrown on the sand, intermingled with the driftwood, and hidden in the boulders my kids like to play on. 

That afternoon was the inspiration for this week's Kindness Countdown activity: cleaning up the Third Coast!

My daughters and I (my son has a terrible cold and my husband was repairing the breaks on our van) headed back to the shores of McKinley and Bradford armed with plastic gloves, large garbage bags, and a desire to leave the beaches better than we found them.

Over the course of a few hours we had collected 50+ pounds of garbage. We picked up countless plastic bottle caps and cigarette butts, a baby diaper, lots of straws and liquor bottles, balloons, plastic silverware and storage containers, broken shoes, and chip bags.

We passed one family playing at the beach who thanked us for our hard work. A few others made sad faces as we squatted down to pick up bottles cast aside in a field of wildflowers. 

I'm not gonna lie, it was gross and tiring work, but we all agreed we'll definitely do it again. Walking back through the sand and seeing it clean, as it should always be, felt so good. 

We may not be able to change the world, but we most certainly can fix our small piece of the planet. Hopefully doing so will inspire others to do the same. 

PS: If anyone reading this works for Milwaukee County, pretty please with sugar on top add more garbage cans to the lake shore. An increase in strategically-located bins near beaches and walkways (especially in the summer) will greatly decrease the amount of litter. 

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