Happy Earth Day! Officials warn to pick up trash before it’s too late

TRI-CITIES, Wash — Happy Earth Day 2021! This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth,” something that local officials said is a must if we want future generations to enjoy the planet.

Richland Park Ranger Jason Janosky said he and other park staff spend their mornings filling trash bags with litter tossed into the river and surrounding areas.

“It’s not hard to throw things away but people don’t see that when they just throw cans on the ground, our facility staff is out there and sometimes it looks like a war zone with how much garbage is out there,” Janosky said.

Janosky said the never-ending cycle is “disheartening.”

“I’ll leave for an hour to go throw away the trash and when I come back, there’s already new trash,” Janosky said. “People should remember the concept of ‘leave no trace’ where you leave stuff better than when you came.”

Janosky said that some of the trash floating into the river came from the roads and highways.

Krista Patterson, the co-owner of Northwest Paddleboarding in Richland, agreed, adding that people don’t realize their trash can blow over into the water.

“If we’re going to have these wonderful places to go fishing, hang out, go paddleboarding and take our kids to, we definitely need to keep it cleaned up so it’s safe,” Patterson said. “I just hope that we can all continue to work together to clean stuff up.”

To help keep the parks, neighborhoods and streets clean, Patterson said if you see trash, pick it up and throw it away.

“Sometimes things can blow away from you especially in the Tri-Cities wind,” Patterson said. “Make sure we’re picking things up as we walk along our paths to keep it looking nice.”

Patterson also recommended bringing bags and storage if you’re planning to go onto the water, so you have a place to put your trash until you get to land.

Besides being an eyesore, the litter also affects the wildlife here in the Tri-Cities.

Geese and their goslings, squirrels, beavers and more are surrounded by trash suffocating their natural environment.

“Now we have orioles that are coming out and starting to build their nests,” Janosky said. “They’ll get fishing line and different pieces of garbage to make their nests. Then their babies or even themselves will get stuck in it.”

Janosky added that even picking up just one piece of trash on your hike or lunch-break walk can make a real difference.

“We only have one Earth and if we don’t take care of it, we’re ruining it for our kids and other generations so we need to do our part,” Janosky said.