Grand River cleanup aims to remove garbage on stretch of waterway connecting GVSU campuses

A river with a small island in the middle is seen from above.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

An expanded effort to remove garbage from the Grand River will endeavor this year to cover the entire stretch between the Pew Grand Rapids Campus and the Allendale Campus.

The 2022 Grand River Campus to Campus Cleanup runs Sept. 18-24. The effort starts Sept. 18 outside the Eberhard Center and L. William Seidman Center, where participants will use waders as necessary to help collect garbage, said Peter Wampler, professor of geology and a leader of the Making Waves Initiative.

Making Waves is a university-wide initiative to explore and investigate the many ways that water touches lives, from being essential for life to defining GVSU in relation to the Grand River and Lake Michigan.

After the initial cleanup downtown, participants will launch kayaks from different points along the stretch, which is about 15 miles from campus to campus, Wampler said. They will use garbage pickers and nets to snag garbage, and also collect by foot along the banks when possible.

A motorized boat will also support the efforts, with garbage collected each day hauled to the Allendale Campus using a truck borrowed from Facilities Services. The Office of Sustainability Practices is also supporting the cleanup with a grant, Wampler said.

Wampler said he is especially hopeful to have more student participation this year to help them more deeply understand the need to care for the well-being of this waterway and others. The Making Waves website has more information on how to sign up.

Along a rocky river bank, a kayak is next to a small plastic pool containing a black plastic garbage bag and a toy motorized car. An oar sits next to the tub.
Some of the garbage collected during last year's river cleanup. This year's effort is expanded.
Image credit - Courtesy of Peter Wampler

"My hope is that the students gain an appreciation for what an amazing place this is as we're out there cleaning it up," Wampler said. "It's just an impressive river. I want students to see that and cherish it."

One student who has played an important role in helping plan the cleanup is Ashtyn Gluck, an environmental science and sustainability studies major. 

"Cleaning up pollution has always been important to me, and after taking a class last year where we tested the water quality in areas around our campus, it is more important now than ever," Gluck said. "I hope by having this event more students are able to see the effects their actions have on our environment and they think twice the next time they want to litter.”


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