By: Brittany Sperino Horsford, Contributing Writer
Oswego County citizens will mobilize in the last week of April to clean up the county and raise awareness about the environment.
Earth Week, organized by the Oswego County Environmental Management Council, will take place from April 25 to May 4.
The Environmental Management Council has organized events citizens can participate in during the week. The EMC also highly encourages citizens to host environmental cleanup events of their own.
EMC chairman Tim Carroll explained that the council was formed by New York State Environmental Conservation Law and Resolution 86 in 1971. The EMC is comprised of a group of appointed volunteers.
“The EMC serves as an advisory group to county legislatures and local government in matters affecting the environment,” Carroll said.
Carroll has served as chairman of the EMC for five years and a member of the council for 27 years.
“We’ve been spearheading Earth Week for years, by organizing things like roadside cleanups,” Carroll said. “But we’ve expanded quite a bit this year.”
The Earth Week celebration is actually in its 44th year. However, the activities, sponsorship and community involvement have grown significantly, especially recent years.
The ninth annual Canal Clean Sweep will take place April 25-27 during Earth Week. The EMC is also working with Friends of Fulton Parks for the Sparkle-a-Park in Fulton event.
“During Earth Week, families, groups, businesses or individuals can choose a day to sparkle a park in Fulton. The work projects are coordinated with the Fulton Department of Parks and Recreation, to clean up or do a work project at the city parks,” Kelley Weaver said.
Weaver has been an EMC member for three years and is coordinating the Sparkle-a-Park event.
People interested in Sparkle-a-Park can email [email protected]
“It’s all about having fun out there,” Weaver said.
If Oswego County citizens find themselves unable to participate in the pre-organized events, they’re encouraged to create their own.
By visiting the Earth Week website, participants can fill out a participation form for their own Earth Week project.
“We’ve always advocated doing a cleanup in your neighborhood,” said Dick Drosse, Earth Week coordinator and EMC member. “Litter pollutes the soil and water, so with a simple cleanup you’re protecting the environment.”
Drosse said Minetto Elementary School will be taking part in a cleanup around the town and Pulaski High School is doing a cleanup as well.
It’s not too late for other schools to register for Earth Week 2014 as well.
“Having been involved with cleanups and from reports by other participants, some of the most common pieces of litter are cigarette butts,” Drosse said. “They’re number one, followed by fast food wrappers and containers, then plastic bags. Cigarette butts can accumulate and clog gutters and drains. They take years to decompose. Besides polluting our land and water bodies, they can also be harmful to wildlife who mistake the butts for food.”
Cleanups are not the only way to contribute.
The Earth Week website also offers more ideas, like planting trees in your neighborhood or creating rain gardens.
The EMC recognizes that participating in Earth Week takes both effort and supplies.
Other supplies made available will be safety vests for roadside work, and Novelis will be donating a limited number of gloves. Any recycled aluminum cans collected can be donated to Novelis’ Cans for Community.
A brand new component to Earth Week is all participants who send in photos of their environmental work during the event will be entered to win prizes.
“Various businesses and organizations through their generosity have donated gift certificates,” Drosse said. “We’re asking people who participate to fill out the form online beforehand, and then send a photo of their project for Earth Week.”
Photos can be emailed to [email protected]
Participants are also encouraged to post their photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag: #OswegoCountyEarthWeek.
“We currently have about 15 donations,” Drosse said.
Donators include river’s end bookstore in Oswego, Blue Moon Grill in Fulton, and Raby’s Ace Home Center in Oswego.
Earth Week is not only a time to come together and clean up the county, but the EMC hopes it will also be an opportunity to instill young people with an environmental mindset.
“Cleanups are a really simple thing to do,” Drosse said. “We hope people will take the concept of Earth Week and use the environmental practices throughout the year.”
More information on Oswego County Earth Week can be found by visiting the website, www.oswegocounty.com/earthweek.html, or calling 315-343-4565.