During the COVID-19 lockdowns, some decided to shift their focus from Tiger King and baking bread, and dedicate more time to the environment. The pandemic inspired many to join grassroots environmental organizations — SOLVE Oregon, for example, has recruited thousands to join its monthly downtown cleanups, which have now being going on for a full year. And at a recent monthly cleanup, the nonprofit eliminated more trash than ever from Portland's city streets in only one day.
"It really is joining our local community members to get out,” SOLVE's CEO, Kris Carico, told Katu. “We have seen more repeat volunteers at our downtown events than any other events we have held across the state. So, it's really remarkable to see the turnout and the camaraderie between all our community members. It's fantastic.”
SOLVE's achievements are so inspiring.
On Wednesday, Sept. 15, SOLVE Oregon announced major news via Instagram: the organization picked up over 51,000 pounds of trash during one of its Downtown Portland Cleanup Days, alone. After starting these cleanups only a year ago, the nonprofit rounded up a whopping 5,000 volunteers, in an effort to protect the PNW's metropolitan streets.
"It’s official! Volunteers have collected more than 51,000 POUNDS of litter during SOLVE’s Downtown Portland Cleanup Day!" the post reads.
"These monthly cleanups began in September of 2020 and we’ve seen more than 5,000 volunteers pitch in since," the post continues. "Think about it, more that 5,000 community members have worked together to lift Portland back up, one piece of litter at a time. This is all pretty amazing, and we’re grateful to everyone whose volunteered their time and energy."
The organization came to life in 1969 to plant trees, lead beach cleanups, tidy up parks, and more.
Decades later, SOLVE's downtown cleanups are attracting thousands of volunteers monthly — and clearly, they're making a huge difference.
Despite an increase in environmentalism, Planet Earth's city streets have seen a recent uptick in litter.
Although the coronavirus has supposedly inspired people to live more sustainably this past year, the city of Portland saw more trash on the ground than ever, according to KGW.
"“The quantity of trash that you're seeing around in the areas is a little bit alarming,” local resident Stacy Gibson told the news outlet in January 2021. “You just have no idea where it's coming from, what's in there and what can be growing. I mean you know the rats, different things that happen.”
As society continues to more and more about the detrimental effects of littering and human activity on our planet, it's somewhat disconcerting that this issue is getting worse — but a BBC report from last summer explained a few potential causes: it suggested that many cities were seeing surges in litter because governments weren't funding trash pickup. This is a major disservice to Mother Earth, wildlife, and especially the communities that are forced to live in filth.
Environmental injustices happen around the world all the time, and it's mostly urban and low-income communities that will bear the brunt of climate change. Therefore, it's crucial to have your voice heard, vote, and continue doing everything you can for the planet.