“One dumpster was overflowing and the other one was half full,” Rodgers said. The one that was filled part way contained what organizers hoped could be recycled.
There were also piles of debris left in some areas to be collected later because they could not be handled by individuals, Rodgers said. Those piles included appliances such as hot water heaters, he noted.
“Probably the most bizarre thing that was found was a city of Grand Rapids recycle bin,” Rodgers said. “There were lots of tires, bikes, chains, fences, springs and car parts.”
Rodgers said they could only put the clean stuff in the recycle dumpster. Anything that was full of mud had to go in the trash.
“We also have a ton of scrap steel,” Rodgers said. “We didn’t realize there would be so much metal out there. There were also several metal and plastic barrels.”
The most common item found was packaging, said Kristi Klomp, water programs director for WMEAC.
“Anything we take home from this is we’re using too much packaging,” she said. “We’re wasting a lot of resources.”
Klomp said they found steel cables and I-beams, lots of glass bottles and cans, and some medical waste.
“There was a car bumper, an oven, diapers, a couch, a car and a dress with a petticoat,” she said.
One of the members of the Lake Effect Chapter of the Michigan Duck Hunters Association actually found a rubber ducky, she said.
“There was so much stuff,” Klomp added.
Rodgers said to make things more fun for children, giant Easter eggs full of candy and toys were hidden in the areas being covered by school groups. Those included fourth-graders from Peach Plains Elementary School, and the Interact and G.R.E.E.N. clubs from Grand Haven High School and students from Spring Lake High School.
Coffee and hot chocolate along with hot soup and sliders awaited the chilled scavengers who hunted through wet grass, mud and water to retrieve the garbage.
Rodgers said the volunteers told him there was still enough stuff out there to make it worth a return cleanup, and the groups were already planning to do another Grand River GreenUp next year on or around Earth Day.
Klomp said if they get this many volunteers again, they will be able to spread out and cover more areas.
The main sponsors for the event were the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation and Izzy Plus.