Earth Day only comes once a year. But for Pennsylvania residents who can’t attend a local cleanup event this Saturday, a group of activists are offering two months’ worth of opportunities to help beautify and purify the Schuylkill River Watershed.
From April 1 to May 31, any group wishing to organize a cleanup can register with the Schuylkill Scrub at SchuylkillScrub.org. Those registered can receive free gloves, trash bags and safety vests, as well as free garbage disposal at participating landfills during Pick It Up PA Days. Registered groups will also be eligible to win a free rain barrel or $100 toward the purchase of native plants.
All cleanup efforts will automatically be registered with both Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful, adding to data collected by environmental leaders nationwide. The benefits of this partnership, says Schuylkill Action Network Coordinator Tom Davidock, are twofold: “It recognizes the wonderful work that people have already done, and it encourages new people to organize their own projects.”
The Schuylkill Watershed covers 2,000 square miles of land in 11 different counties, from Schuylkill County to Philadelphia. The river supplies drinking water to nearly 2 million people. Although many people don’t see land pollution as a health threat, says Davidock, “the message is that anything that’s on the land eventually will make its way to our lakes and streams.”
The Schuylkill Scrub, which was founded by the Green Valleys Association and the Hay Creek Watershed Association, has grown exponentially since its inception in 2010. Michelle Dunn, program coordinator for the Great American Cleanup of PA says, “Volunteers cleaned up over 600 miles of Pennsylvania’s shoreline and waterways last year – roughly a three-fold increase over 2011.” Over 2,000 volunteers participated at more than 90 sites. To make this year’s efforts the most successful yet, visit SchuylkillScrub.org to find or organize a cleanup in your area.
MOLLY O'NEILL is a California native turned Philadelphia aficionado. When she's not working on freelance projects, she teaches yoga, revels in the local food scene, and hangs out with her extended family of rescued pit bulls.