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It’s a lot of garbage

Litter awareness advocate stresses proper disposal of waste

Cigarette butts, a diaper and a plastic bottle are shown on a local beach. Trash, if left on the beaches, can end up in Lake Superior, polluting the water and harming wildlife. (Photo collage courtesy of Cesar Escobar)

MARQUETTE — Marquette is known for its pristine beaches and with the recent lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions, many people are flocking to the lakeshore.

However, as people have left their homes to enjoy nature, they’ve also been leaving some litter behind on area beaches.

Due to this, Cesar Escobar, a contributor to the Clean U.P. Marquette initiative, has been picking up litter he sees during his daily walks, which take him from Marquette Harbor Lighthouse to McCarty’s Cove to Shiras Park at Picnic Rocks, then the multi-use path from Vandenboom Drive to Third Street.

While Escobar is working to combat the issue, he’s been disappointed to notice trash disposed of on the beaches, ditches and the multi-use path during his scenic walks, he said.

“It’s not going away and will probably get worse as our population expands,” Escobar said. “Marquette residents should be more concerned because this is our home. Garbage looks trashy, ‘pun intended.’ People are more likely to throw trash if they see trash.”

Last year, Escobar helped spearhead Clean U.P. Marquette — an initiative to encourage people to become more responsible with spring litter pick-up — due to his concerns about the amount of litter he saw in town during the spring snowmelt.

However, litter is still found in the environment, which Escobar believes could be addressed through more participation from city officials and area residents throughout the year, he said.

Escobar said he’s spoken with Marquette city officials about trying to mitigate the issue with more beach patrols, lifeguards, extra trash cans and signage.

“I don’t feel we should have (a) specific time when we clean up trash. This should be an ongoing thing all year round and citywide. Clean U.P. is 365 days a year. Having specific days when we clean up gives the idea that someone else will take care of it for you at another time. We all need (to) participate,” he said. “What you bring with you should go with you. Trash should not be left behind for someone else to pick up or Lake Superior to wash away.”

Items littered in Marquette range from cigarette butts, alcoholic beverage bottles, beach toys, food packaging and plastic bottles, to diapers and dog waste bags, Escobar said. Other items include personal belongings from socks, shirts, hats to towels.

Being more aware of the litter problem in Marquette is important because whatever is left on the streets, ditches and beaches may drain right into Lake Superior and it’s vital to protect what this city has to offer and keep it clean, Escobar explained.

“If you see someone litter, kindly remind them not to,” he said. “If you see trash, pick it up. If you don’t see signs that remind people not to litter, call the city and tell them to make signs. Bring a bag with you when you go to the beach or on walks. Be considerate. There is probably a trash can nearby and if not, you got one at home.”

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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