From the bean of Green Bean.
It was a cool and foggy September morning. I knew which day it was. Saturday, the 20th. I had had this date marked on my calendar for months, even a year.
Still, I ignored the calendar entry. There were so many other things I could do on a quiet Saturday morning. The kids could be sucked in by screen time, forbidden during the week. I could work in the garden, plant seeds for fall, lay down sheet mulch for spring. Hit the Saturday farmers market instead of the Sunday one. The possibilities were endless. And yet, I had wanted to do this since last year. Or at least thought we should try it.
Pick up other people's trash.
I loaded the kids and hubs into the car and headed West, to the beach, to join in our first ever California Coastal Cleanup Day. When we arrived, the parking lot was an empty. A single gentleman surrounded by empty trash bags and paperwork waved us over, set us up and we were off.
Creeping over invasive ice plant and down along the kelp washed up on the shore, we scoured and picked, like a treasure hunt. One son proudly found a Starbucks cup and straw. The other, not to be outdone, located a full beer bottle amongst the seaweed. "I saved a sea turtle, " shouted one, waving a deflated balloon. "I saved some fish," bragged the other, holding a straw overhead.
By the time we had reached the end of the beach - our bags full of Styrofoam and plastic, we turned to head back. Apparently, we were just the first of many volunteering that morning. The shore crawled with a boy scout troop, twenty-somethings on a "girls day out", a 4H group, and a number of others aiming to make the world - or at least our little sandy corner of it - a better place.
We left invigorated, excited about the prospect of having made a difference and without having found a single plastic bag - thanks to our county-wide bag ban that went into effect over a year ago. My family cannot wait until next year to pick up more trash. (In fact, we may not wait).
But in the meantime, what our service projects would you recommend for children? How, as the holidays of overindulgence come roaring around the corner, can we keep that sense of giving alive? What service projects have you done and how have you liked them?