Volunteerism — to some degree — still exists. When it comes to Earth Day and protecting our environment, this is a wonderful thing.
Two weeks ago, on our editorial page, we mentioned the increase in roadside litter along our towns’ roads and the importance of keeping garbage off the streets. In that editorial, we made a small mention of the groups that volunteer to clean up in our areas, but they deserve more than a sentence or two.
With Earth Day celebrated April 22, residents may have seen people out this past weekend with bags, gloves and trash pickers along roads, in parks and on beaches collecting the garbage of others.
On Saturday, the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group hosted a cleanup in conjunction with Suffolk County at Larry’s Landing, and Three Village Community Trust members along with the Friends of the Greenway could be found along the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail.
Hometown Hope, a Port Jefferson nonprofit, gathered volunteers Sunday to clean up the beaches in the village. Dozens of people helped pick up trash along the four-and-a-half-mile shoreline. These are just a few of the cleanups that occur on our roads, trails and beaches throughout the year.
These volunteers deserve a standing ovation for helping to improve our environment and restoring a sense of pride to our communities.
We would love to see cleanups like this happen more often throughout the year. While it’s the responsibility of individuals to treat the outdoors as they would their own living room or car, unfortunately many don’t follow this common-sense rule.
Groups like the ones mentioned above have the ability to organize people and get things done and pick up where towns leave off — even though we would like to see highway departments out cleaning more, too.
Sadly, many organizations are in desperate need of volunteers. As more residents commute to the city or work two jobs, many civic associations, advocacy groups, nonprofits and even fire departments have seen a decrease in the number of people volunteering.
Yet so many groups just ask for a bit of time to help make our neighborhoods better places to live. One individual giving up an hour here and there to help others causes a ripple effect. It could influence many to do the same and create a wave of community engagement.
That wave is evident in these cleanups as not only a spot of land becomes cleaner but, in the long run, it helps our foliage and wildlife thrive and keeps our waterways clean.
So, thank you to all of you who took the time out of your busy weekends to make our little space on Earth a bit cleaner.