Cleaning up garbage is only one of the ways to celebrate Earth Day this year.
The annual event has been an environmental movement since its birth in 1970, and communities around the world have been celebrating and participating in events since then.
“Earth Day involves physically having people do whatever they can to positively impact the environment,” explained Wildsight Golden director Meg Langley.
Wildsight is a group that works locally, regionally, and globally to protect biodiversity and encourage sustainable communities, and one of the ways they are doing that is with the annual Earth Day cleanup at Reflection Lake.
Anyone who wants to participate in the cleanup around Reflection Lake is invited to join Wildsight on Sunday, April 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. After the cleanup, there will be a casual potluck. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own plates and utensils to ensure no more garbage is used.
“What we’ve chosen to do here in Golden for many years now, probably 20, is have people gather starting at Reflection Lake, and then they can disseminate, go out from there with a garbage bag and gloves, or not, and pick up garbage,” Langley explained, adding that the Town of Golden will then pick up the bags of garbage at the end of the cleanup. “Really, getting people to recognize that not polluting in the first place, so not littering, is such a simple thing that we as individuals can all do to have an impact on the environment that’s really easy.”
Langley says she doesn’t think people realize how much garbage lines the lake and roads, and picking it up can be an eye opener for some people.
“I think people don’t realize how much trash is out there right now, just breaking down and causing damage. This doesn’t just go away. Most of it is not compostable,” she said. “Once you get out there and start picking things up, you see all that and recognize that it’s still out there even though most of it is hidden.”
Although the cleanup meets at Reflection Lake, Langley hopes that people will also participate in their own way by cleaning up around their businesses and in their neighbourhoods.
“I often try to take a garbage bag with me when I’m walking my dog to pick up garbage. It feels good, and it makes everything look nicer. It’s just a simple thing to do,” she said.
One of the things everyone should keep in mind, she explained, is the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle, but she wants to put extra stress on reducing the amount of garbage and packaging.
“I don’t have much packaging in my world,” she explained. “I use jars, I take them to Eat Pure, I fill them there. I have very few things that have anything to throw away… The reduce part I think we have to focus on a little bit more than we have been.”
There have been movements worldwide to reduce the impact of garbage, including the rise of zero-waste grocery stores. Campaigns have been started across the world, including the Sick of Plastic Campaign in Ireland, where shoppers are being urged to shop as normal at their local supermarket, and politely leave the garbage behind at the check out to show how much waste is created at the grocery stores.
“Just eliminate the production of garbage in the first place, because it needn’t be that way,” Langley said about people’s habits here.
The Earth Day event at Reflection Lake is on Sunday evening, and wraps up with a potluck.
“After we pick up, we potluck, so it’s a fun party too down there at the lake,” Langley said, adding that she hopes the weather will be good like it has been years before.