Evanston Gets Cleaned Up For Earth Day


Volunteers from Northwestern's GREEN House picked up trash and recycling at the "Clean Up, Evanston" 2014 event. Photo by Nick Garbaty By Hyunjee Lee

Saturday morning was drizzly and chilly, but that didn’t stop volunteers from getting together at 13 different locations across Evanston to participate in the “Clean Up, Evanston!” program, held in honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Evanston has held various clean up events throughout the years, but this was the second year of holding the “Clean Up, Evanston!” Earth Day event, according to Kumar Jensen, a Sustainability Fellow with the city.

The event was just one of the programs Evanston had planned for Earth Day, which included cleanups run by ETHS and the WestEnd Business District, as well as mulching events at the Ladd Arboretum and Lovelace Park.

Michael Davis, a City of Evanston Public Works employee, stressed the importance of regularly cleaning up around town. “It’s good to keep the area and environment clean,” he said. “The area looks better and makes people want to come and stay.”

Community members gathered at their sites at 9 a.m. and received gloves and garbage bags for collecting trash and recyclables. The 13 locations spanned Evanston’s nine wards and ranged from urban to grassy to beachy areas. At the Lakefront/Centennial Park/Clark St. Beach House location just south from the new Visitors Center, nine volunteers gathered to help.

Volunteers included Evanston residents and Northwestern community members, and ranged from young to old. Virginia Beatty, 86, has been volunteering regularly in Evanston and said she enjoys getting the opportunity to meet people from Northwestern.

One of the Northwestern students that Beatty met was Matt Mays, a sophomore Economics and RTVF major. Mays and some of his fraternity brothers were volunteering as part of their chapter’s human service event.

“We’re excited to be out here, to get this place clean,” Mays said. He added that he had expected sunny weather and more people, but that “the conditions could only get better from here” if he and his brothers were to volunteer with “Clean Up, Evanston!” in the future.

Last year's trash haul included a bike frame, found by a volunteer near the Evanston Ecology Center.

In previous years, the trash collected has been fairly exotic, ranging from bike frames to tires. But at this site there weren’t many big pieces of trash, which Beatty attributed to Evanston residents’ commitment to keeping their community clean. Rather, the volunteers had to pick up smaller things such as bottle caps, torn paper bits, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers in the area.

“I never realized how tiny garbage is,” said Mays.

After the volunteers were done filling their bags, the garbage and recycling were separated to be taken to facilities for proper disposal. In total, volunteers collected 55 bags of recycling and 70 bags of trash.


**A previous version of this article credited the featured image to Christina Cilento. The photo was taken by Nick Garbaty. In Our Nature regrets the mistake.