Heading outside? Pick up litter through April — #DIYEarthMonth

Event Date: 
Thursday, April 30, 2020 (All day)
Location: 
Your neighborhoods and local parks!
FMR staff members Jen Hadley and Sophie Downey pose with full trash bags, each are alone on a city street

FMR staff members Jen Hadley and Sophie Downey demonstrate good practices for an independent cleanup: pick up trash in your neighborhood, wear gloves and avoid groups of people!

First, a note...

In all honesty, we weren't sure if we wanted to promote cleanups during this difficult time. But, our river communities already made this decision! Many of you are already out there, picking up trash and improving the health of our environment and the river.

As you take a break, reconnect with nature and get a little exercise, please remember to follow the Minnesota Department of Health recommendations such as avoiding groups (stay by yourself or with your household), not touching your face and maintaining a safe distance from others.

And if you’re staying indoors, you can still participate: we’ll have an online action for Earth Day. Sign up to become a River Guardian and we’ll be in touch with how you can make a difference!

Earth Month, not just Earth Day

We may have had to cancel our annual Earth Day cleanup, but we can still celebrate Earth Day together this year. In fact, in honor of this holiday's 50th anniversary, let's celebrate it throughout April — Earth Month!

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we're all connected, our individual actions impact our neighborhoods and our communities — next door and around the globe.

We hope you’ll join us in picking up trash in your neighborhood or local park. To make this a "distantly social" experience, we’ve made it easy for you to share your experience, photos and stories. Keep reading to find out how!

How to Do It Yourself this Earth Month

Step one: Find bags and gloves

This can be a good opportunity to use up extra plastic shopping bags or any other single-use containers that you might otherwise be throwing away. Gardening gloves or work gloves will keep you safe while picking up trash!

Friend of the river Josh Davis picks up trash on his street

Friend of the river Josh Davis demonstrates that you don't need to look beyond your neighborhood to find places to clean up!

Step two: Plan where to pick up trash

Though cleaning up the riverbanks has a great impact, there is still so much trash that goes overlooked on sidewalks and boulevards in city streets. And if any of that trash makes it into a storm drain, it’s going straight to the Mississippi!

This Earth Month, we’re encouraging you to look no further than your sidewalk, boulevard, storm drain, or neighborhood park for trash (while following safety precautions like avoiding large groups and maintaining a safe distance from others).

You can also clean leaves and sediment out of storm drains and curbs (though please note that this is not compostable, and should be put in the trash).

Don’t ignore micro trash! Cigarette butts are everywhere, and they are incredibly toxic for aquatic ecosystems. In fact, small pieces of plastic and cigarette butts can do the most harm to wildlife.

Nico the dog and his human pick up trash on a bridge over the MississippiA neighbor of FMR staff member sue rich (and his canine helper Nico) model the impact of an individual action -- by picking up trash from this bridge, he is keeping it from entering the river below!

Step three: Document the process!

Please keep rough track of how long you work for and how much you pick up for the next step. And feel free to take a photo to share with us on social media (more info below ... And if you're not comfortable with that, that's just fine.)

Step four: Share your good work

You can fill out this form to tell us where you picked up trash and how much you gathered. (Note: if you picked up trash every day for a week, feel free to submit the form just once and estimate the total amount of trash and the time you spent on it!)

Any time you report to us will go towards your FMR volunteer hours, which means you’ll be on your way to SuperVolunteer status and a t-shirt!

Please also share your outing on social media! Please join our DIY Earth Month Facebook group, to share your activity with your neighbors and see how others are getting involved.

If you post any photos on Facebook, be sure to use the hashtag #DIYEarthMonth and tag @FriendsMissRiv on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

This activity is supported by the local neighborhood group, the Longfellow Community Council, and by Great Lakes Brewing Company and Sitka Salmon Shares.

Our usual yearly event, the Earth Day cleanup, is part of the Gorge Stewards program, which actively engages citizens throughout the Twin Cities in the stewardship of the national treasure that is the Mississippi River Gorge. While this year we are expanding our scope beyond the river gorge, residents in this area are especially encouraged to participate.

Partners: 
Thanks to our Gorge Stewards Program partners and funders: Longfellow Community Council, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, Andeavor Foundation, RBC Wealth Management, The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, Xcel Energy, and Great Lakes Brewing Company.