I consider myself a well-traveled person. I’ve been to a few countries, including Japan and Costa Rica, and have seen much of the U.S. Yet one of my favorite geographical locations is the shores of Lake Michigan. There’s something about the lake shore's landscape—the evergreen forests, the moist cool air and people’s laughter along the shoreline. It’s just such a nice place. And there is no doubt I'd like to keep it that way, although it often seems I am losing the battle against the McManisions that keep replacing forested acres. There is no way I can control the building, as money and tax dollars are the core focus of city councils. Plus, landowners have a right to build. Instead, I can do my part to preserve my paradise in small ways—like cleaning up the beach.
Maybe I am strange, but I actually enjoy it. I stroll along the beach as waves crash on my feet. As I see trash—no matter how little—I pick it up. In between, I collect small treasures like beach glass. Beach glass is water-worn remnants, often from glass bottles, found in a multitude of colors along the shore in the rock bed. Green is most prevalent, while turquoise to locals is a special find. You also can find fossils and pieces of clay pots or tiles.
As I move along the beach, the bag of trash I carry always gets heavier. I usually end up dragging it along the sand towards the end of my clean-up stroll. I do my best not to get upset about it, but of course it would be best if everyone picked up after themselves to keep our environment clean and safe. I can’t control that. What I can do is my small part while also enjoying the lake and getting some exercise.
If each of us walked around our neighborhood with one garbage bag, how much cleaner would the earth be? How about making a commitment this 4th of July to do the same, whether at a local park or waterway?