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Every day is Earth Day along the lakeshore

• Apr 19, 2019 at 3:00 PM

Earth Day is a beautiful way to remember to care for and celebrate the world we live in. It’s the perfect time to teach each other how to care for our environment, and how to practice sustainable living; but we live on the Earth the other 364 days, too.

Just as we should celebrate and care for our loved ones even if it’s not Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, we should continue to celebrate and care for our Earth beyond Earth Day.

While enjoying the beaches, trails and rivers of Grand Haven this summer, it’s important to remember this motto: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” This is true whether you’re hiking, kayaking or boating. Photography is a great way to appreciate the beauty of our Earth without damaging the terrain you are in.

There are so many other simple ways to celebrate Earth Day every day this summer. Before launching your boat, make sure you don’t have any hitchhikers from your last adventure: this is how invasive species, like the zebra mussel, get into the lakes.

Be extra careful to avoid spillage of both oil and fuel. Fuel spills can have a major negative impact on the aquatic environment. It covers the microlayer, where the water and air meet, which limits how much light can get into the water, and impacts the micro-organisms that live in the microlayer, according to Michigan State University.

Always save your trash for a land trash receptacle; never throw it in the lake or on the beach. Both from beach-goers and boaters, 22 million pounds of plastic end up in the Great Lakes each year. Although one water bottle might not feel like a big deal, it all adds up pretty quickly.

With that, it only takes a couple minutes to sort out trash from your lakeshore adventures. Try to recycle and compost what you can. The amount of trash that has gone into our landfills each year has increased by 73 percent since 1980, with a 22 percent increase per capita, according to the University of Michigan.

You can help reduce the amount of trash you put in the landfill by recycling what you can and by avoiding single-use plastics. It’s easy, and cheaper in the long run, to bring reusable water bottles with you to the beach instead of plastic water bottles.

But celebrating Earth Day is not just about taking care of it: it’s also about enjoying and appreciating our world. There are a lot of great events coming up in Grand Haven to do both.

This coming Saturday, the week before Earth Day, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) is sponsoring a Grand Haven Beach Clean-up. Read more in our March column. Or, celebrate the natural resources of Michigan — the beaches, the wind — with the Grand Haven Kite Festival this May, and enjoy the Sand Sculpture Contest in August as people use the lakeshore to make beautiful, sustainable art.

You can also start training to participate in the September Holland Haven Marathon. What better way to enjoy the lakeshore than to run alongside it? With the full marathon starting in Grand Haven, and ending in downtown Holland, this is a great way to appreciate the beauty of the lakeshore.

It’s easy to treat Earth Day like a new year’s resolution, with good intentions to change, but then forgotten within a week. But we’re on the Earth 365 days of the year, and there are so many simple and easy ways to celebrate and take care of it. Here at WMEAC, and along the lakeshore, every day is Earth Day: come celebrate with us!

Upcoming lakeshore events:

— Grand Haven Beach Clean-up: Grand Haven State Park, Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to noon

— Earth Day Lakeshore Celebration: Parade starts at the County Courthouse, followed by the fair at the Grand Haven Community Center, Saturday, April 27, 12:30-4 p.m.

— Kite Festival at Grand Haven State Park: May 18-19

— Sand Sculpture Contest: Grand Haven City Beach, Aug. 11

— Holland Haven Marathon: Sept. 8

About the writer: Madalyn Buursma is the eco-journalist intern for the West Michigan Environmental Council and is the features editor for the Calvin College Chimes.

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