Take action to protect our home waters for  Earth Day (April 22) even though we are all social distancing right now. To celebrate Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary while being safe, we are asking you to get outside and pick up 50 items of trash.

5oth Anniversary Earth DayJump in any day on or around April 22, whatever day/time works for you. This social distance-friendly 50 for 50 activity is a great way to get outside, breathe fresh air, and make the world a better place.

How to do your own cleanup. It’s easy!

On or near Earth Day, gather your supplies and head out. You can go it alone or bring your shelter-mates with you to collect debris. No matter where you live you can find trash to remove. For example, you can collect from streets and sidewalks, along waterways, your yard, or your favorite trail. Each place has its own considerations.

Remember — please keep your distance. When you are in a park or neighborhood, avoid crowds and park equipment and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and people you don’t live with. You may need to cross the street or wait far away for others to pass you on a trail. Consider collecting 50 for 50 from smaller neighborhood parks close to home and places where crowds are less likely.

Share 50 for 50 on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook

While you are out, snap a pic and post using these hashtags: #TrashTag, #hrwc, and #50/50

Streets and sidewalks

This stormdrain needs you!

Clear those stormdrains! They connect directly to a creek or river so anything you see on or near them, will pollute our water. Safety first, so only choose residential roads that have a 25mph speed limit or less.

Take care that you DO NOT:
• Remove the grate from a stormdrain opening.
• Remove dead animals. Instead call animal control.*
• Remove hazardous materials like syringes. Call your local police department to notify.*
• Leave your compost bag. Bring it home instead and dispose of the contents in your compost bin or compost them in your yard.**

* Animal control may not be able to remove a carcass during this time and the police may not be able to respond right away to address hazardous materials. Either way, leave it where you found it.
** Please check with your refuse provider to make sure they will take your compost. For example, the City of Ann Arbor is only collecting compost from bins not bags at this time.

Spice it up by incorporating a Scavenger Hunt

city of ann arbor stormdrain scavenger huntThe City of Ann Arbor created a fun stormdrain scavenger hunt activity that you can do while you are clearing stormdrains.  If you are a youngster, find a parent or sibling, or join your friends virtually through a video chat app. Download their Scavenger Hunt check list and bring it with you. To learn about Ann Arbor’s stormdrains, check out the City of Ann Arbor’s website.

Supplies: gloves, trash bags, yard waste bags, rakes, broom/dustpan, bright colored clothing, phone/camera 

Along waterways

Picking up trash along the banks of a creek or the river is a great way to make sure that it stays out of our water. A lot of litter ends up in parking lots near creeks and where roads cross over them. These are good areas to focus on. If you go to one of these locations, please make sure to watch out for traffic and avoid private property.

Supplies: gloves, trash bags (one for trash, one for recycling), bright colored clothing, phone/camera

Your Yard

Now is a great time to pick up pet waste! Collect it, put it in a bag, and toss it in the trash. This will prevent toxic waste (nutrients and pathogens) from washing down stormdrains during big rain events.

Supplies: gloves, bucket lined with trash bag, scooper, phone/camera

Your Favorite Trail

Be a Plogger! If you are hiking or running on a trail, bring a bag and wear gloves. When you see trash, collect it and keep going. Repeat until your favorite trail is beautified for the runners and hikers behind you. Add the hashtag #plogging to connect your efforts to other ploggers from around the globe, like Erik in this video.

Supplies: gloves, trash bag (can be a small one), camera/phone

Use hashtags #50/50, #hrwc, #Trashtag (and if you are a runner, add #plogging). You can also email your pics to me here.

Take the plastics pledge from home

If you want or need to stay home, you can still participate. Sign our pledge to reduce plastic pollution in the Huron River. (More about microplastic pollution here)

Pledge to Reduce Plastic Pollution

Covid-19 Considerations

Pay attention to safety guidelines. Remember — please keep your distance. When you are in a park or neighborhood, avoid crowds and park equipment and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and people you don’t live with. You may need to cross the street or wait far away for others to pass you on a trail. Consider collecting 50 for 50 from smaller neighborhood parks close to home and places where crowds are less likely. Our Covid Alert page has a few helpful links.