The Rapidian

Mayors’ Seventh Annual Grand River Clean Up pulls 15,689 pounds of trash from watershed

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.


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The Mayors’ Seventh Annual Grand River Clean Up brought together 202 volunteers on Saturday, October 9 to collect a total of 15,689 lbs of trash from 10 miles of Grand River watershed, according to refuse data from the four participating municipalities.


Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll and Grandville Mayor James Buck joined Walker Mayor Rob VerHeulen, participating for the first time, in sponsoring the Clean Up with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and the Grand Rapids Young Professionals.    


Originally scheduled for September 18 the Clean Up was rescheduled for October 9 due to inclement weather.  Volunteers included student groups from City High, Kenowa Hills High, Grand Rapids Christian High, Grandville’s Cub Scout Pack 3391, members from the Center for Inquiry, and groups of employees from BDO Seidman, Erhardt Construction, and Black & Veatch Corporation. 


Other sponsors included Meijer Inc., San Chez Cafe, Biggby Coffee, Besco Water Treatment, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Dean Transportation and The Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds.


This year, the Clean Up focused on the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids between Sixth Street and Wealthy Street, along Market Avenue between Freeman Avenue and Indian Mounds Drive, on Indian Mounds Drive within the cities of Wyoming and Grandville and along Butterworth and Veterans Memorial Highway in Walker.


Refuse collected from the river and its banks included plastic and glass bottles, plastic bags, tires, television sets, discarded clothing, shoes, roofing shingles, a discarded bed with mattress, fishing and camping equipment and many other assorted items.


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 The big question remains unanswered, why is there over 15,000 pound of trash in the river? Why are volunteers required to spend their time cleaning up the mess? Why are the mess makers nor being charged for the service?

During my tenure working and volunteering for GR non-profit organizations I have never understood why I should waste my time picking up someone's trash. If there is no accountability in the system then people will continue to throw their trash on the street or in the river or anywhere that will have it. Events like this merely maintain a status quo that includes allowing people to behave poorly.

 unless you have a cop on every bridge and boardwalk you are not going to stop people from doing this... and I personally think that we have too many police in this part of the world...and as far as why should we clean it up...? Ghandi said "you have to be the change that you wish to see in this world". If WE don't then NOBODY will. You shouldn't view it as a "waste" of your time to do what is right in this world. Even if it goes unappreciated or unnoticed. And there are people out there that do appreciate the hard work that volunteers like yourself put out there. I missed the opportunity this year, but will definitely pitch in next year and help out. The people caught throwing crap in the river should definitely have to make a serious effort to make amends... maybe some clean up time and a prime spot in a Grand River version of "Busted"?