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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Lake Michigan Shoreline, Whitehall, Michigan, USA

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Lake Michigan Shoreline, Whitehall, Michigan, USA


Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: MUSKEGON
Posts: 1
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My name is Natasha, and I have the fortune to live right on the shores of Lake Michigan, in a small town named Whitehall. It’s a beautiful place, with sand dunes all along the coast and marvelous beaches right out of my back door. Unfortunately, though, lots of trash washes up on the beach from anywhere from Milwaukee to Chicago to just a few miles down the beach. This is why the project I’m sharing isn’t so much as project as a way of life.
My parents have always taught me to be kind to the earth. So when we moved to Michigan, and I first saw the beaches that weren’t cleaned, full of balloons, cigarette wrappers, and beer cans, it sickened me. I didn’t really know how people could just leave things there, and not care about it. So every time my family walks the beach, any one of us, all of us take a bag and pick up all the trash we find along the shoreline. And living south of an extremely popular state park means we find a lot of trash. We’ve picked up everything from tires to T-shirts, shoes to $50 bills. And countless balloons and cigarette butts. One time, we picked up nearly $100 worth of discarded cans and bottles of various types. We’ve even found swimming pools and pieces of a sailboat that washed away during a storm. And each time, we bring the trash home. We find about five grocery bags worth of trash a week during the summer, that we either reuse (my Dad still wears a couple of the T-shirts we found as paint shirts), recycle (all of the cans and bottles actually get us pretty good money because of the deposits on them), or properly throw away.
Most of the refuse we find has washed up from the shores of Lake Michigan, which always saddens me. We’ve also found birds with plastic rings around their necks from 6-packs and dead fish tangled up in balloon ribbons. We’re not really doing much, in the big picture: we can’t stop people from letting go of their balloons or dumping trash in the lake. But keeping the five miles of shoreline around our house and the state park beautiful and clean is really the least we can do. Because we pick up the trash, it can’t hurt the animals, it can’t clog engines, it prevents the spread of bacteria through the open bottles, cigarette butts, food wrappers, or ‘waste’ containers we pick up, and it makes our area an even more beautiful, less polluted place to live in. Our simple act a few times a week saves animals, saves us humans from having to look at it, and it sets a great example.
Our beach clean ups have inspired me to do more in the world around me. There was a recycling program at school that none of my friends paid attention to—it wasn’t a big thing, either, just papers in a bin in the teacher’s rooms and milk cartons in a special container in the trash. But I’ve persuaded them to start actually recycling what they use, and the NHS members in charge of that project have seen a big spike in the things recycled. I also worked concessions a few times for the band and my various sports, and convinced the managers there to cut up the 6-pack wrappers so that no more birds will choke. It’s little things like that, when done by a lot of people, that can have a big impact. And I’m proud to be a part of that.
I would like to continue my work where ever I end up after college, whether it be a big city or a small town like mine. I’m not afraid of cleaning up other people’s messes. Helping the environment is the least I can do for having such a strong impact upon it. I feel I’m a better person to my peers and the world around me because of the impact of this lifestyle, and I only hope I can inspire others to do the same.
Date: December 31, 2010 Views: 5305 File size: 37.6kb : 350 x 263
Hours Volunteered: 100
Volunteers: 4
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16 & 12 to 44
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