Happy Earth Day!
At Gwinnett Recycles, we’ve been looking forward to this day for the past nine months. Last August, we set a goal to organize a volunteer litter cleanup and plastic litter audit in every single city in Gwinnett County. Our deadline? Today, Earth Day 2021. With our county clocking in at 437 square miles and 16 cities, this was no small feat! But we were determined. And thanks to 125 citizen volunteers, we were able to achieve our mission, removing 5.34 tons of trash from our local environment and logging details about more than 10,000 pieces of plastic litter.
Today, we’re releasing a report with our takeaways from ALL those events and ALL that citizen science!
Speaking for myself, I got much more than I bargained for in this project. I gained a whole new understanding of litter, plastic pollution, corporate responsibility, and the urgency of reimagining Gwinnett County as a zero waste community. I now know exactly who and what is standing in the way of our planet being the cleanest, greenest, and healthiest it can be for us, for our children, for animals, and for many future generations of Gwinnettians, Georgians, Americans, and Earthlings. It’s all in the report — the product of 700+ volunteer hours, a lot of passion, and zero external funding or influence. This document, On the Ground in Gwinnett: Plastic Litter Report, is the unvarnished truth about litter, as I can now clearly see it from my vantage point on top of a 5.34-ton mountain of trash.
I hope that you’ll take some time to give the report a close read. Be prepared for feelings of shock, sadness, and anger — I felt all those emotions too when I was writing it. But by ending with clear Take Action Guides for companies, government leaders, and individuals, the report gives us each the tools we need to take action, make a difference, and win a better world in our lifetime.
This Earth Day and every day, I’m eternally optimistic about the power of community. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”