Spruce up the shores with Adopt-a-Beach event

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 30, 2017

 Plastic that isn’t cleaned up from the environment could be ingested by wildlife, according to experts from the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Plastic that isn’t cleaned up from the environment could be ingested by wildlife, according to experts from the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Photo by Sean Work

METRO DETROIT — Your kindergarten teacher taught you well: When you’re done playing, you need to clean up after yourself.

Well, now that summer is winding down, the beautiful shores that meet Michigan’s Great Lakes need to be picked up after months of enjoyment. The Alliance for the Great Lakes is hosting several Adopt-a-Beach cleanup events around Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and other states on the borders of the Great Lakes. 

On Sept. 16, the Alliance for the Great Lakes will host one such cleanup on the beach of Belle Isle, in partnership with Delta Sigma Phi and Michigan Clean Water Action. Volunteers will be treated to refreshments and will be supplied with tools to clean up the shores of one of metro Detroit’s most beloved beaches.

Well, actually, the event is aimed at cleaning up many, many beaches.

“The September Adopt-a-Beach program is a one-day event where thousands of people go out and sort of just take care of and give a little back to their part of the Great Lakes shoreline,” said Jennifer Caddick, spokesperson for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “Volunteers go out that day and pick up tens of thousands of pounds of debris, not only to beautify our beaches, but to make sure trash doesn’t get into the water and impact the Great Lakes environment.”

The problem with litter, Caddick explained, is that items — particularly plastic — can break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they look like food to fish and other aquatic life. The unsuspecting animals ingest the plastic and could eventually die, sometimes in large numbers, having a major impact on the ecosystem.

“So the plastic water bottles or food containers left on the beach, or even that little sand shovel you forgot and left behind, we want to get that trash picked up before it becomes an even bigger problem,” she said. 

Mike Jasinski has participated in the cleanup for about seven or eight years, he estimates. He’s serving as a cleanup captain at Belle Isle Beach, and he’s excited to see how many volunteers are willing to join him.

“It’s rained the last few years, but we’ve still had a lot of participants,” Jasinski said. “We’ve picked up around 100-150 pounds of garbage, starting at the sandy shoreline and making our way in.”

Participants need only bring weather-appropriate clothing and a desire to keep the lake healthy and happy for another year.

“You’d be surprised what gets into our waterways,” Jasinski added. “The Alliance for the Great Lakes and Michigan Clean Water Action keep an eye on it, and even the Ocean Conservancy, but it requires effort at the community level to make sure this trash doesn’t get into our waterways.”

To find an Adopt-a-Beach cleanup event, or to create your own along any Great Lakes shoreline, visit GreatLakesAdopt.org.

To volunteer for the Belle Isle Beach cleanup event, call Jasinski at (586) 354-3559 or email mejasin@gmail.com. Cleanup will take place 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Sept. 16, at Belle Isle Beach, 1 Riverbank Drive in Detroit.