The 2020 Earth Day Beach Clean-Up
Joining together to work apart, to protect our Island environment
Due to the ongoing need to keep our community safe through social distancing measures, we are changing plans for this year's Earth Day Beach Clean-Up. Rather than coordinating one big day of action, and the risk of crowded beaches that would bring, this year VCS is encouraging everyone to independently clean our Island's beaches – as well as the trails, sidewalks, roads, and anywhere else your outdoor travels take you – during the entire month of April.
At this time of isolation from friends and coworkers, and profoundly upset daily routines, it is more important than ever to get outside and take in the natural world. Outdoors we see, smell, and hear the rhythms of nature beating on, undisturbed. For a moment, the song remains the same.
So while we will greatly miss getting together with all of our Earth-conscious friends this April, with your help we can still honor Earth Day (April 22, just like the original one, see below) and all that it represents. Please share your observations, anecdotes, and photos via email (or post your photos and tag us on facebook or Instagram) and we will send you your choice of prizes (while supplies last), including VCS hats, our canvas shopping bags, Walking Trails or Edible Wild Plants books, and more! Together, we will create the story of a community coming together to protect our shared environment during this challenging time.
Everybody can pitch in, no matter the size.
(See more photos from five years ago)
Earth Day 1970
It all began over a half century ago. In honor of the first-ever global Earth Day, a group of local environmentalists set out on April 22, 1970 to make a difference. Organized by a fledgling VCS, the plan was to clean up roadside litter across Martha's Vineyard. The goal was not just to get the trash out of our woods and waters, but – probably more important to these young activists – to draw attention to the under-appreciated problems of waste, litter, and pollution.
In that spirit, dozens of high school students were recruited to pull then-executive director Bob Woodruff's giant ox cart, traveling from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown via State Beach in Oak Bluffs, all the way filling it with debris:
"It was a beautiful April day, cool and clear, with the air filled with kids’ laughter and the rumble of the iron-shot wheels. The students were full of energy and committed to make a difference. They pulled the cumbersome cart for hours and filled it several times with bottles, cans, and trash from the roadside. . . We didn’t quite make it to downtown Edgartown, but we got as far as Trapp’s Pond on the south end of the State Beach by sunset. We must have collected a ton of glass and metal. And so was born a new concept of what is 'trash' and what is a 'resource' on this island, with its limited space for waste of any kind."