International Coastal Cleanup

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Have Fun!

by Lina Younes

River-CleanupHow many times do you want to do something special on the weekend to enjoy the great outdoors? How many times do you want to volunteer to give back to the community? How often do you look for special outings where the entire family can have some fun while enjoying the fresh air? Well, this Saturday, September 25th, there will be numerous opportunities throughout the country, including Puerto Rico, to volunteer. There are two major events, National Public Lands Day (NPLD) and International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC) taking place at a park or waterfront near you, I’m not talking exclusively about big expansive lands with majestic vistas. These public lands can be at an urban park in your very neighborhood.

This year, EPA will be joining forces with the National Environmental Education Foundation to encourage employees to volunteer for these park cleanups and plant some trees. For those of us living the Washington metropolitan area we will have an added bonus. Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will be joining us this Saturday morning at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC. I had been meaning to go to this park for quite some time, but never actually ventured there. Now I will have a chance to roll up my sleeves and have some fun doing something positive for the environment.

Also this Saturday, not far from Kenilworth Park, some of my colleagues will be volunteering at another event in Anacostia as part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day effort. For that occasion, EPA will be partnering with the Ocean Conservancy to remove debris from our waterways. We urge you to search both sites to find events where you can take the whole family.

Coincidentally, yesterday I attended a meeting on environmental education where EPA’s Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe spoke about the importance of hands-on activities to instill the values of environmental stewardship and conservation among our youth. I would like to share the quote with you: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Hopefully these volunteer events this weekend will serve as opportunities to make our children environmentally responsible citizens at an early age

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Playing It Safe At The Beach

image of author taking a survey on the beachAs the Beach Program Coordinator for EPA’s office in Chicago, I’m often asked whether it’s safe to swim in Lake Michigan. My answer is yes, it is safe to swim in the lake, but there are things that swimmers need to know before they go to the beach to help keep themselves – and others – from getting sick at the beach.

When you’re at the beach, be sure to wash your hands as soon as you leave the water and always before eating anything. Don’t feed the birds, as their fecal matter can contribute to poor water quality and may cause beach closures. Also, be sure to use the bathroom facilities when nature calls, and encourage your friends to do the same. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the beach and hear people tell their friends they have to go to the bathroom – then watch them get up and walk towards the shore! The most important tip is make sure that you stay out of the water if you are sick, as you may share your illness with others.

Even though many beaches are regularly tested for bacteria levels, it can take up to a day to get water quality samples back from the lab, so water quality results aren’t posted until the following day. Being an informed swimmer will help keep you healthy. I generally tell beach goers that a good rule to follow is to avoid swimming during, and up to a day or two after, a rainstorm. Pollutants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, and animal waste, may be washed off the land and into the water during the rain, which could pollute the beach water.

image of EPA tent at beachWhat do you do when you see a sign at the beach that advises against swimming? Swimming in contaminated water can make you sick, ranging from sore throats and diarrhea to more serious illnesses. EPA and CDC are currently studying the relationship between water quality and illness, and the results of the study, due out in 2011, will help better protect swimmers.

In the meantime, you can help make your favorite beaches better during your summer break by volunteering to adopt a beach! Go to the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ website to find out how you can become part of their Adopt-a-Beach program. Volunteers help collect data on different aspects of their beach to investigate pollution sources, collect and dispose of litter, and sample water quality; or check into the 24th annual International Coastal Cleanup on September 19. Let’s keep our beaches clean! Do you know of other ways to volunteer to keep our beaches clean? Share your stories and contacts with us here!!

About the author: Holly Wirick started with EPA in 1991 and has served as the Regional Beach Program Coordinator since EPA’s Beach Program was established in 1997.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.