The concept is quite simple: the cleaner our parks, trails and rivers are, the more likely people are to protect and utilize them. In an effort to raise awareness of litter and increase stewardship of the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers, River Town Adventures, with assistance from the Middle Grand River Organization of Watersheds, created the Lansing Earth Project, a recurring clean-up event hosted around parks, trails and portions of Red Cedar and Grand River.
River Town Adventures provides volunteers with all of the tools necessary at the events, free of charge, including shuttle services, kayaks, trash bags and litter pickers. An estimated 750 gallons of trash has been collected since May at six Lansing Earth Project events throughout Lansing and East Lansing.
River Town Adventures had already been participating in small clean-up events with their employees and close friends, but soon realized to make a difference on the river and to improve public perception there would have to be more than one or two cleanups a year. Inspiration for more frequent events came after a large amount of litter was found along the banks and in the Red Cedar near the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity house after the 2016 Michigan State University homecoming football game. River Town Adventures organized a cleanup immediately after hearing reports of large amounts of debris near the fraternity house and filled five 30-gallon trash bags after the incident.
“After seeing the fraternity house and many other housing complexes near the Red Cedar have issues with their trash management, we decided to make a passion project for our company. We are working closely with East Lansing PACE, housing managers and other environmental groups to come up with trash receptacle solutions. Many of them have dumpsters facing the Red Cedar, making litter an inevitable event, intentional or not,” stated Paul Brogan, co-owner of River Town Adventures.
River Town Adventures and others environmental groups including the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, Middle Grand River Organization of Watersheds and Greater Lansing Regional Committee for Stormwater Management are working together to change the stigma of the Red Cedar, especially during football games. They will be canvassing a football game this fall asking tailgaters to make a pledge to properly throw away their trash and to report incidents of litter. There will also be a number of kayakers on the river during the game to raise awareness of recreational opportunities and to discourage littering behavior.
“The Lansing Earth Project is a forever project for River Town Adventures. We hope it changes the stigma of the Red Cedar and Grand River,” states Brogan, “we want people to view these rivers as an asset to their community and through the Lansing Earth Project we can make small but noticeable changes in both the public’s perception and the amount of trash.”
Since opening in 2014, River Town Adventures has made it their mission to increase awareness of the Grand and Red Cedar rivers by providing a livery service based at the Lansing City Market.
The next cleanup effort on the Red Cedar River will be on Wednesday, August 16th from 6pm - 8:30pm. Volunteers will meet at Fergurson Park in Okemos and work their way downstream on the Red Cedar to Bogue Street on the MSU campus. River Town Adventures will provide free shuttle for participants from campus back to their vehicles in Fergurson Park. Pre-Registration is not required but encouraged, Link to RSVP.
Lansing Earth Project cleanups will continue through the end of September, and many of the events occur on weekdays in the late afternoon.
To learn more about the cleanups and to volunteer visit River Town Adventures website.