Well...this is disappointing.

Just two weeks after a major cleanup coordinated by the Kalamazoo River Alliance, piles of trash can once again be seen in the Kalamazoo River.

The inaugural Kalamazoo river cleanup, which was announced in March, finally happened at the beginning of June. You can read more below:

Considering they labeled it as a "first annual" I would assume that next year they'll be conducting another river clean-up. It was very successful with 3 hours of work yielding over 3,000 pounds of trash according to a Facebook post from the Kalamazoo River Alliance. I'm sure the hope was that the river would stay clean for at least part of the year. But...here we are.

Posted just yesterday, the Kalamazoo River Alliance shared over 50 photos of the trash that, once again, is sitting in the Kalamazoo River. Take a look:

It's easy to pin the blame on specific groups. The homeless, for example, was brought up in the comments of the above Facebook post. But, as others pointed out, there are other reasons trash may be reappearing like rising water levels, due to rain, picking up the trash from an area untouched by the cleanup, and sweeping it downriver. Others pointed out that creeks from nearby cities could also be to blame. Whatever the case, it does feel a bit disheartening to see this much trash after over 3,000 pounds were removed earlier this month.

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So, what can I do about it?

First, be loud about it. The phrase "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" exists for a reason. Contact your local representatives and demand that action be taken and don't let them off the hook. I, oftentimes, tend to think I'm being "annoying" when I repeatedly bug someone over an issue I see in my community. But, that's how things get accomplished.

Second, reach out to the Kalamazoo River Alliance. See if there's anything you can do to help like organizing another river clean up perhaps in a different area than the first. Ask if they have any needs that can be filled through donations, and so on.

Third, this is something I do personally. Every time I set off to enjoy a local nature trail or preserve I take along a garbage bag, a pair of gloves, and hand sanitizer. Should I see trash on my route I pick it up and dispose of it properly. However, please only pick up trash that can be handled SAFELY. Needles or anything that may have bodily fluids or chemicals should be handled by a professional. As well, do NOT wade into the water of the Kalamazoo River to pick up trash. At the clean up wading in the water was not allowed due to the amount of sediment. And, I'm sure that hasn't changed.

Other suggestions from the commenters on the Kalamazoo River Alliance's Facebook post include possibly putting up trail cams to catch illegal dumpers or 'adopting' certain trails to help maintain a clean environment.

Whatever the solution, I know for a fact that we have to work together to make it happen. In the meantime, don't let yourself be discouraged. Do what you can, when you can because it absolutely makes a difference.

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