By Max Kaczor, Communications & Marketing Intern
Updated with video from the June 4th Montrose Beach Cleanup.
It’s summertime in Chicago, which means sunny skies, days by the lake, and toes in the sand. Lake Michigan is utilized by millions of fishermen, beachgoers, and vacationers every year, and provides drinking water to 5 different states. The lake is not only an invaluable economic asset for the region, but also a place of beauty, exploration, and recreation. Unfortunately, the beach has also become an open garbage can for cigarette butts, water bottles, bottle caps, and more.
In 2014 the City of Chicago banned smoking in city parks and harbors, in an effort to limit second-hand smoke exposure and to reduce litter. While the ban has helped with litter on the beach, cigarette butts still account for over 20% of beach litter. At a recent clean-up event at Montrose Beach, organized by Alliance for the Great Lakes and in partnership with Delta Institute’s Love Lake Michigan campaign and Goose Island Brewery, over 100 volunteers picked up 546 pounds of trash, including 1,400 cigarette butts and filters, 907 plastic pieces, 766 food wrappers, 600 glass pieces, and 420 beverage containers.
Delta launched the Love Lake Michigan campaign in 2014 to promote the idea that the lake is ours to protect, promote, and enjoy, so we’re thrilled to partner with Alliance for the Great Lakes, an organization that’s working to reduce trash on Great Lakes beaches and is testing a clever solution at some Chicago beaches. Earlier this year, they installed cigarette butt voting boxes. Smokers can “vote with their butts” by disposing their cigarettes in one of two slots. The boxes pose questions like “Do you prefer a Chicago hot dog, or deep dish pizza?” and “Do you call it soda or pop?”
If you’re not a smoker, there are other ways you can keep our beaches healthy and clean:
- Pick up the small pieces of litter you find while enjoying the summer sun at the beach;
- Bring your own bag to the beach;
- Bring reusable water bottles and food containers;
- Learn about Alliance’s Adopt-A-Beach program and volunteer on their clean-up days;Take the pledge to Love Lake Michigan;
- Share your love of the Lake with your friends and family by using the hashtag #LoveLakeMichigan when you post photos from the Lake;
- Spread the Love Lake Michigan message with LLM gear (20% of proceeds support Lake Michigan stewardship);
All of these actions will help decrease the amount of litter on the beach and promote Lake Michigan stewardship and health. So, what do you say? How will you #loveLakeMichigan this summer?