Earth Day is defined by the human spirit

To me, Earth Day has always meant two things: education and action. Of course, I would never object to the entertainment that accompanies many Earth Day events, because learning and good deeds ought to involve fun and laughter.

For years, my wife Sue and I drove over to Sequim on the Saturday after Earth Day to help clean up Dungeness Spit, which happens to be the place she and I went on our first date many years ago. We stopped going for health reasons but hope to get started again.

Tracyton resident Don Larson has organized the Sinclair Inlet Cleanup twice each year for the past 21 years. Now Don and his fellow organizer John Denis are a couple of guys who truly understand the Earth Day spirit and what it means to give back to your community.

Don told me this week that he was impressed with the crew that showed up at Saturday’s cleanup. He was particularly inspired by Jim Anderson, a 66-year-old Bremerton resident who regularly picks up trash along the Bremerton boardwalk as he moves along in an electric wheelchair, accompanied by his guide dog Raffle.

“He’s a phenomenal guy,” Larson said. “He has these hand-grabber picker-ups. He and his wife Jackie clean up periodically all year long as he moves around the waterfront.

“With Jim and Jackie, the human spirit really comes out. You hear about all the bad stuff in the world, then you meet a person like that who gets out and helps the community. It just makes you feel good.”

The Sinclair Inlet Cleanup, which occurs twice each year, lasts only a couple hours but it brings together spirited people who make a difference in the appearance and environmental quality of the waterfronts in Bremerton, Port Orchard and the surrounding areas.

Some 24 volunteers on the Bremerton side picked up six cubic yards of trash. A team of more than 50 people picked up an equal amount on the Port Orchard side while also stenciling 80 storm drains to inform people about the hazards of dumping things into the stormwater system.

In addition to the normal bottles, cans and plastics, the volunteers hauled away 13 automobile tires, a bowling ball, a TV, a microwave and two sofa cushions from the Port Orchard side.

Each year, several local businesses contribute food, drinks and supplies to help with every cleanup, which makes it a more enjoyable event.

More Earth Day activities are scheduled for this weekend, while Ecofest in Kingston is scheduled for the following Saturday. Check out my story in today’s Kitsap Sun for a list of events in this area along with a link to sign up for beach cleanups on the Washington Coast.

Outside of Kitsap, check for lists published by the Washington Department of Ecology, The Seattle Times and The Nature Conservancy.

If you know of other events, please feel free to add them to the comments section below.

About half the Port Orchard crew posed for this picture following Saturday's Sinclair Inlet Cleanup. Some are making faces; others are showing off boxes from the pizzas they devoured after the cleanup. (Click to enlarge.) / Photo courtesy of John Denis

One thought on “Earth Day is defined by the human spirit

  1. More than 1,158 volunteers turned out to help clean up Washington’s ocean beaches Saturday. They hauled away an estimated 23 tons of household trash, lost fishing gear and other debris. The Washington Coast Cleanup is sponsored by the Washington Clean Coast Alliance.

    A few comments in a news release from Washington CoastSavers:

    David Lindau, program coordinator for Washington CoastSavers: “This year’s event was another huge success. Our extremely dedicated volunteers fanned out up and down the coast and hauled off an incredible amount of ocean trash. Each and every one of our volunteers is a hero. Countless marine mammals, seabirds, and other marine wildlife have been saved. And our beaches are cleaner, healthier places for everyone.”

    Acting Superintendent George Galasso, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary: “The dedication and efforts of these volunteers on this day indicates that people really understand the importance of ocean health and are willing to get personally involved to sustain this beautiful place. Our coastal ecosystem is a cleaner, healthier and more productive place, thanks to everyone who volunteered today.”

    Karen Gustin, Olympic National Park superintendent: “We are very thankful for the efforts of each and every volunteer … and for the Washington CoastSavers’ work to organize this huge and extremely valuable event, especially during National Park Week.”

    Shelly Pollock, lead organizer for the GrassRoots Garbage Gang: “Here on the Long Beach Peninsula, we practically live on the beach. Cleaning up ocean trash is not just about saving the environment. It’s about keeping our community clean and livable. The volunteer turnout is always inspirational.”

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