October 9th was a beautiful sunny day in Chicago. On that day eight CALL volunteers assembled at Montrose Beach with our garbage bags and rubber gloves and got down to business collecting trash. And there was plenty of garbage to be found, unfortunately. As we walked along the waterfront, everything from food wrappers and pieces of broken toys to Bulls baseball hats and cell phone accessories mingled with the sand and surf. Small bits of plastic are a disproportionately large pollution hazard that can travel well beyond the lakefront shore when wildlife fatally ingest them. Our group sent at least eight garbage bags of trash off to the landfill, a great start to getting some of the mess contained for proper disposal.
Besides the camaraderie and good feelings that come with doing any volunteer work, why was this particular trash initiative a pressing concern? Plastic pollution is a growing problem in our Great Lakes, Chicago’s source of fresh drinking water. We organized this opportunity as a work group for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization working across the region to protect our most precious resource: the fresh, clean, and natural waters of the Great Lakes. Whether you joined us on Oct. 9th or not, consider taking the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Plastic-Free Great Lakes Pledge and start actively changing your own daily habits to reduce plastic consumption.
This was the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began that CALL members came together in person to help our community through volunteering. Thank you to all the volunteers with a special note of gratitude going to Mike McMillan, Community Service Committee member, for planning, coordinating, participating, and supporting our clean up crew. We look forward to seeing more CALL members at future volunteer days, pandemic and weather allowing!