(River)Keeping It Clean

From Albany to the mouth of the New York Harbor, hundreds of volunteers got together as part of Riverkeeper’s 4th Annual Beach Sweep on Saturday, May 9th.

It was a beautiful day for getting outside, and Human Impacts Institute was there at the East River State Park, along with fellow co-sponsors, Open Space Alliance of North Brooklyn, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, and NYC Council District 33.

Volunteers focused on picking up trash, but also on removing this enormous yellow tubing, which had been left there by prior construction.

Trash on our beaches and in our waterways doesn’t just look ugly - it affects everything from water quality, to the health of birds, fish, and mammals that live and feed in the water, to our own health. And there’s too much of it: in 2014, Riverkeeper’s beach sweep collected 31 tons - that’s 2000 pounds - of trash. While some of it - baby shoes, cigarette butts, and plastic bags, to name a few - will end up in nearby landfills, some of the trash could have easily been recycled (plastic bottles and plastic containers, certain kinds of paper). NYC still recycles only about 15-18% of its waste, which is less than half the national average (even L.A. recycles more than we do!). The Big Apple can also be a Green Apple - but we need to keep pushing for policies and practical ways to encourage recycling and proper waste management (a couple tips include supporting the ban on plastic bags, learning what is recyclable and what isn’t, and getting involved in future events - like HII’s Summer Series!).

There’s a lot more to be done, but we’re very grateful to all the folks that volunteered their time to help make the East River Park even more beautiful...

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