Friday, August 23, 2013

Which is More Important: Clean Water or Clean Water?

I created this blog to talk about the importance of clean water and to talk about how one person can make a difference with patience, hard work, and a sustained effort. Many of you know I’m a marketer by trade, working for a small software company called SmartBear.

Recently, I attended the #Inbound13 conference in Boston, which is an event created by Hubspot where I learned about the work being done by Charity: Water.

I was impressed by Charity: Water’s mission and their ability to communicate the importance of clean water. For me, that message was a connection between my marketing life and my personal passion, so it really hit home. Sure, we all know we need clean water to sustain life and prevent disease. However, I never realized that young women are primarily responsible for collecting water for the family. In many cases, they spend their day walking miles carrying heavy jugs of dirty, contaminated water. It’s dangerous, difficult, and comes at a heavy price. Because this is a daily chore, they cannot go to school.

Simply by supplying clean water, you allow a village or a region to be healthier and make it possible for the women to become educated, and education is the only way to overcome poverty. Many of you also know I have a daughter, and were in not for circumstance, that could be her. Instead, she’s preparing for college, something most of those girls could never dream of.

As your child heads back to school, I encourage you to watch this video about the work Charity: Water is doing and donate to their #september campaign.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kayaking and Cleaning the Nashua River

I've had a little bit of spare time, so I've been spending a little more time cleaning up than usual. Last week I went to the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge in Harvard, MA. 
I've switched my set-up a little bit these days. I used to have a laundry basket in the front and have the rear deck clear to carry tires to larger items. Now, most of those large items are gone, so I focus on the ability to carry more trash. A laundry basket in front for recyclables, and a basket in the back for trash seems to do the trick, and save me some time sorting out once back on land.
I paddled downstream to near Rt. 2. While it is only about 3 miles or so, I did manage to fill both baskets, but there was still a bit more to collect. I kept moving and came across an old container like to might use for mail. I made some room on the deck and found I had more capacity for storage. I didn't get every bit of trash between Depot Rd. and Rt. 2, but I did do a pretty good job. One more trip should do it.
Today I went over to the Nashua River on the Pepperell/Groton line. There were a lot of boaters, so that was good to see. I only wanted to spend a couple of hours so I could be back by Noon or so. I paddled back up to where the boathouse is, and then back. 
I was happy there was little trash, only about half a basket. I'm always encouraged when there isn't a lot of new trash. There's always some, but I think when the rivers are clean, people notice and are perhaps a bit more careful. But when they are dirty, no one cares. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tsunami Waste Washing Ashore

I often blog about the effort to try to keep the Nashua River clean - at least from trash. I know there are others that put their efforts into keeping the river from further harm by development, chemicals, and wildlife management.
I recently read an article about the waste from Japan's Tsunami washing ashore on the west coast and how the U.S. should "brace" for it. I see it every day I paddle on my local rivers, another plastic bottle, another container of waste oil, another bucket of paint.
I think people lose sight of the fact that every day, your Dunkin Donuts coffee cup, water bottle, or beer can might wash into a basin, into a stream, into a river, and into an ocean. Wake up. I pull huge amounts of waste out of the rivers, most of it is water bottles. How ironic is that?
You have to buy bottled water because the local water isn't clean enough (in your opinion), yet when you choose to recreate at a park, river, or lake, you bring bottled water and throw the empty bottle back in the water you won't drink. Seriously?
Folks, the bottled water industry is a nightmare, top to bottom, left to right, it's bad. The petroleum required to power the plants, make the bottles, and distribute the product is ridiculous. And for what? So we can "look" healthy carrying around a bottle of water? That bottle is leaching chemicals into the water you bought because it is marketed as "pure". That bottle ends up choking out life in rivers, streams, and oceans. Guess what? That water with the cool glacier on the label came from the tap, just like at home. You didn't gain anything, and it cost you more. Test after test proves your tap water is better quality. If you believe your bottled water comes from a spring in some long-forgotten wilderness, you are way off the mark.
My point is this: You are drinking bottled water because you believe the water from your local rivers and lakes is unclean, yet you are throwing those bottles into your local rivers and lakes, this making them unclean. You are the cause and the solution. Stop buying bottled water, it's 100% unnecessary and doesn't make you look cool.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Nashua River - Earth Day

It's been a while since I've posted, but I have still been cleaning up the rivers when I get the opportunity. Earth Day was yesterday, but since I had prior obligations, I went out Saturday morning to my favorite spot - The Nashua River at The Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge.
I loaded the boat with 2 laundry baskets, grabbed my work gloves and headed upstream. I decided to go upstream either as far as I could go or until I thought I would have a full boat, whichever came first.
I made it up to the Bolton Flats area and found both the need to portage and the makings of a full cargo load, so I started loading the boat. I found a number of large plastic items like a sled, some milk crates, and some sort of ride-on toy. After wrapping a bungee, around them I started on the usual bottles and cans.
As I worked my way downstream, I found 2 car tires and rims. While I wouldn't normally overload the boat with 2 tires, 2 full baskets, and some other plastic items, I knew the low water level wouldn't last and some of these things might soon be out of reach.
It made quite a delicate balancing act out of the ride back, but in one trip I filled the rack on the truck and made a nice dent in the amount of debris.
Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nashua River and Hazardous Waste

I've been collecting trash and whatever else I find on the rivers for about 6 years now. Each week I put trash by the curb, recycling every other week, and I am able to take the tires and propane tanks to my local recycling center, and they know what I'm doing so they let me get rid of those for free. But over time, I accumulate a lot of hazardous household materials.

In the past I would participate in the occasional town-wide hazardous waste days, which amounted to waiting in a long line of cars for hours then paying to dispose of whatever it was you had.

Recently, the Devens HHW ( opened, and having a shed full of used motor oil, anti-freeze, brake fluid, and a host of other unidentified gifts from the Nashua River, I went down there.

I had some correspondence with the director there, and fully expected an inconvenient experience. But when I arrived, I was greeted by the friendly staff, they inquired about what I had, and did all the work. I of course, asked whether they could cut me a break because a good deal of what I has was obviously from the river, but they're independently funded and had no such provisions.

I gladly paid to be rid of the materials (and have some space in my shed back) and I was off. But basically I paid someone else's disposal fee. It wasn't a fortune, my bill was $60, so about $30 would have been for the river stuff. I'd asked the Nashua River Watershed Association if they had any such programs to help volunteers, but sadly, no.

So here's a question for the readers. Would any corporations be willing to create a small fund for the disposal of waste pulled from rivers. I'm not quite sure how the whole thing would work, but perhaps the funds could be used at the discretion of the DevensHHW and other facilities. I might think a company like @CleanHarbors would be interested. Any takers?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kayak Season Opener

Well it was a long winter with everything freezing solid just after Thanksgiving and so much snow, the boat ramps were in accessible, but the season is finally here. Sure, I'd been out once in March, but I consider this past weekend the true beginning of the season.

I made 2 trips. On Saturday, I went to the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge in Harvard, MA. I chose to go upstream from the landing to see the state of things. Overall, not too bad. There are a couple of good sized piles about a mile up, and I worked on those, but I think in general, it's less than most years.

On Sunday, I did a combination bike/kayak trip leaving my bicycle at Rte. 117 and putting in at the site of the old bridge on Rt. 70. There's a new sign saying that it will be the future site of a canoe launch. That will be great, as that's a tough spot to drag your boat through. There was plenty of materials on this stretch, but the current was really strong so a few areas would have been dangerous to try to clean up, and a lot of debris was pushed up over the banks. There was one portage, so there is one large blow-down to cut through at some point.

All in all, great start to what I hope will be a long season of paddling.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Habitat for Humanity Day with The Pedowitz Group

Hi folks, Many of you know I switched jobs at the beginning of the year, I moved from Brainshark to The Pedowitz Group. I don't really use this blog to write about work, but this is a little bit of an exception.
Today, I'm joining the Pedowitz team in Atlanta, GA to work with Habitat for Humanity. It's great to work with an organization that is committed to giving back.
I'll take some pictures and hope to share those with you later.