Amy Ziegelmeier, who showed up with a white trash back at the volunteer harbor and lakefront cleanup effort last Sunday, no doubt is like many Kenosha residents.
“I grew up here and been here all my life,” she told reporter Terry Flores at the cleanup that drew more than 120 volunteers. “I love the lake. So, I love to help.”
She filled the bag as did other people who helped on a beautiful Sunday.
“I think a lot of people want to help, but I don’t think they know how to take that first step,” said Kyle Tobias, a firefighter and paramedic for the Salem Lakes Fire Department and member of the Kenosha County Dive Team.
“This year the idea for the cleanup project started while doing rescue training with the dive team in the harbor, and it was noted that every diver going down was finding large chunks of scrap metal and not seeing much of the wildlife that should be in the area. Most of the garbage we run into in the water usually ends up there accidentally either by strong wind or heavy rains. It is unpleasant to swim in an area full of trash and unrealistic to expect the animals to live there.”.
Other cleanups will be held in coming months, but we know the lakefront and harbor will need attention every day. So maybe, as the season just begins, you’ll want to help when out for a walk.
We asked Tobias and Ben Anderson, Kenosha County dive team leader and Somers firefighter, for ideas for people who want to volunteer on their own.
Tobias made a few suggestions that would not require a big commitment, such as carry a plastic grocery bag and trying to fill it when you go for a walk, or offering your children small prizes for finding and throwing away garbage.
“If large items are found, contact the local parks or highway department to notify them for safe removal,” Tobias said. “If everybody does a little, no one has to do a lot.”
Anderson said volunteering to keep the area clean helps the environment, makes the community look better and makes it more enjoyable for all.
“Everyone gets mad when large cities have to discharge sewage in Lake Michigan, but most of them won’t stop to pick up a piece of trash that is about to blow into the lake,” Anderson said. “(It) sets a good example for society, especially the youth.
“You see fewer and fewer organizations doing stuff like area cleanups. I remember when I was young every weekend during the summer your could drive and find people cleaning up the roadway through the adopt a highway program, and now you rarely do.
“And in general so many things aren’t in budgets or can’t be paid for in today’s society, so it we want things done people need to volunteer.”.
Indeed, just like Amy Ziegelmeier and the more than 120 people who made last Sunday’s lakefront and harbor cleanup such a success.
“I got some sun, some exercise, some fresh air. ... I go to Jamaica a lot, and I pick up garbage there,” Ziegelmeier said. “Sometimes, people yell at me. But you know what? I don’t want to step in that stuff. More people need to do that.”