Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22nd every year since 1970. In those 49 years, the Earth’s population has grown more than 38 percent. And that growth has brough more polution.
The Savannah Riverkeeper is trying to do something about that.
Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus and her team spent the day being a good friend to our Earth by cleaning up Augusta. They worked on some local streets, but also focused on the river.
“Most people don’t realize that they are throwing stuff directly in to the river,” says Bonitatibus. “They think that they are throwing it out of their car and into the street or that somebody in the parking lot will clean it up.”
Monday also marked Rachel Freeman’s first day on the job as the riverkeeper’s assistant. Freeman says she wanted to be an environmental lawyer but instead decided she’d fight the battle against pollution on the front line.
“Since I was a little kid I would go mucking down in creeks and streams and pull out bags of trash,” says Freeman. “So it was kind of something I always wanted to do and it’s something I’ve been incredibly passionate about.”
Georgia has no rules about how much trash can be dumped in the waterways.
This affects more than just the fish living in the water, it has a domino effect for those who live on land.
It’s called the “Cracked Window Theory.” Under this theory, a clean and well maintained environment sends signals that the area is monitored and well kept. If the area looks like a trash pile then people tend to add to the mess.
“Nobody has to stop their job and become and environmental warrior but you don’t have to throw your plastic bottle out of your window…or if you see somebody doing it…pick it up in-front of them it makes a pretty powerful statement.”
Karen and Fred Wahlert are in town visiting from Virginia. They spent part of their day celebrating their anniversary on the riverwalk. Karen says seeing all the trash in the water is disheartening.
“At least it’s nice to see someone doing something about more people should be.”
Wanting to take matters into her own hands
“If I could climb over the railing I would have”
And no matter how much they clean, the trash keeps coming.
If you’re interested in lending a helping hand to clean up the city, there will be a city serve event Saturday April 27th.