Great Lakes Great Responsibility working to clean up the Great Lakes

Great Lakes Great Responsibility teamed up with Keep Toledo Lucas County Beautiful to clean up the Maumee River, and ultimately keep Lake Erie free of debris.
Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 6:23 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Volunteers came together Sunday morning to help clean up trash at International Park. The effort was put on by a group whose goal is to protect and preserve our Great Lakes.

Sunday was the fourth stop on the Ultimate Great Lakes Cleanup Road Trip where organizers and volunteers are beautifying each of the Great Lakes in just one week. The first step in helping Lake Erie is to clean up the Maumee River.

“Everybody deserves to have a free space to go have fun and not worry about all the trash around.” said Bailey Phillips, who volunteered at the event.

Keep Toledo Lucas County Beautiful teamed up with Great Lakes Great Responsibility to raise awareness about marine debris in the Great Lakes region.

“It is estimated that 2,500 tons of litter flows into Lake Erie every single year,” said Adam Cassi, executive director of Keep Toledo Lucas County Beautiful. “A lot of that comes from the Maumee River. So we want to try to do better in Toledo and collect that litter before it gets into the waterway.”

Of the 22 million pounds of trash that end up in the Great Lakes watershed every year, plastic and cigarette butts are the top two culprits.

Meag Schwartz founded Great Lakes Great Responsibility in 2020 to help combat this issue.

“This organization was born a little bit out of frustration in finding marine debris and litter on my own local beach,” said Schwartz. “And I thought, there’s lots of people that care about the Great Lakes so why not rally around a common cause.”

So far, volunteers have removed almost 260,000 pieces of litter from the Great Lakes basin. Their goal is to eventually collect one million pieces.

“As humans, we’re responsible for a lot of the pollution and the trash, so we need to do our part to help keep things as clean as possible so we can have Mother Earth for as long as possible. We’ve got to take care of her.” said Phillips.

About 30 people showed up to Sunday’s event and all together collected 7,852 pieces of trash. This puts Great Lakes Great Responsibility that much closer to reaching their goal of one million pieces collected.

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