CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Earth Day is a celebration to honor the environment and, for many, a promise to do better. On Thursday, Charleston Waterkeeper, Keep Charleston Beautiful, and the Charleston Parks Conservancy each held park clean-ups in West Ashley.

The Charleston Waterkeeper‘s event Thursday morning collected 600 pounds of litter ahead of the two later cleanups.

Katie McKain, the Director Of Sustainability for the City of Charleston, said, “everyone had a role in helping us get to this point and we need everyone to help get us out of this challenge.”

McKain went on to note the City of Charleston is aiming to get the city down to zero carbon emissions by 2050 with their Climate Action Plan. This is a goal that can’t be met by the city government alone. 

She said the city plays a role in catalyzing community action, but ultimately it’s up to the whole community to do their part. With citizens taking action, it will allow them to make sure they can achieve their ambitious emission reduction targets. 

Some of the categories being focused on range from creating greener buildings to carbon sinks to improving waste disposal. Of the 51 initiatives in the plan, the city says nearly half have been started.

Even more, community involvement, such as cleaning up parks, is key to achieving their goals. On Thursday, the Charleston Parks Conservancy kicked off their clean-up in the parks initiative. This occurred with the help of Keep Charleston Beautiful and Palmetto Pride who gifted 100 clean-up kits.

Rachel Barry,  the Volunteer Manager with Charleston Parks Conservancy, said those totes included a couple of trash bags, a pair of gloves, safety vests, and a litter pick-up stick. All of these products could be taken home to continue clean-ups in other parks nearby.

Barry explained that the reason they chose the West Ashley Bikeway was due to the community. She said the story they continually heard was the amount of litter and debris on the linear parks from community members made them realize it was an issue.

But the efforts are more than just keeping Charleston beautiful and clean. McKain said there’s also a danger with single-use plastics remaining on the ground. The risk ultimately posed threatens the health of our wildlife, but it also poses risk to human health. She explained that when these pieces of plastic are eaten by animals, this plastic is now entering our food chain. 

For how you can track the Climate Action Plan’s progress, click here.

For how you can volunteer with the Charleston Parks Conservancy, click here.