Lake Union Cleanup with Puget Soundkeeper

I am a believer in volunteer work. As you age I think the concept of philanthropy sets in with you a little deeper, and there is some healthy self-purpose that can be found in it. If you have yet to really dig in and enjoy volunteer work, I feel it must be that you simply have not participated in something that calls to you yet… so get out there and do some research based on your interests and you will find your cause, I promise!

That is exactly how my first volunteer outing with the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance came about. If you have followed me even for a second there are a few things I hope you know about me: 1. I LOVE boating and spending time on the water with friends and family 2. I HATE pollution, plastics, and the havoc they are currently wreaking on our planet. I was overdue to participate in some volunteer work and set out to social media to find a new calling, and that is where I found them! Puget Soundkeeper is a local advocacy group that is working tirelessly to clean up local waterways, specifically in this case, a Lake Union!

Docks at Northwest Outdoor Center
The view from the docks across from the NWOC – it is right next to where the Electric Boat Company rentals go out of, if you are familiar with that area
NWOC Lake Union
What a beautiful day to be on Lake Union!

The dealership I work for is actually located on Lake Union and I boat there on an extremely regular basis, so it is a lake that is dear to my heart and I also feel a social responsibility to help keep clean. Puget Soundkeeper hosts weekly waterfront cleanups all over the Puget Sound, but on Lake Union you can in particular join for cleanups by kayak! Of course when I found this, I was in.

Just over in the Westlake area of Lake Union there is a paddle rental spot at the Northwest Outdoor Center – they are so great to lend kayaks to volunteers on a weekly basis to clean up the lake. Puget Soundkeeper manages the participants and gear – each paddler gets a kayak, bag for rubbish, a net for scooping, a claw for grabbing, and gloves for those who prefer them. Each week they will do a cleanup on a different part of Lake Union gathering all sorts of garbage in the lake, with the goal of getting as much plastic out of the lake as possible. Basically over time, big plastics break down into microplastics ant these tiny plastic particles get into our water supply and the food we eat (ie: salmon) and that is where they do the most damage. So of course the goal is to remove as much garbage as possible, but the littlest bits you find count as much as the big ones.

Kayaks Northwest Outdoor Center Lake Union

Kayak Cleanup Lake Union
Our tandem kayaks packed and ready to go collect some trash

We set out for a few hours and paddled over to the Gas Works Park area. It made me feel good that we didn’t find as much trash as I expected, but there was still a good amount. We did however find some really big things – I pulled out a whole lunch box off the shore and found some large to-go containers and solo cups that were submerged… even a life-sized foam marina owl that had obviously floated away from someone’s boat slip. There was a total of 26 pounds of trash our group collected, which was actually a super light haul. It was a good volunteer experience and honestly a nice way to squeeze a little exercise into my morning with all the paddling; I enjoyed it!

Trash Collected Lake Union 1
A visual of the trash we collected. Puget Soundkeeper always weighs the trash upon finishing so they can keep tabs on how much is ending up in the water.

If you are interested in this cause, learning more about what Puget Soundkeeper Alliance does and potentially even volunteering with them, here is their info:

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance Website
Volunteer with Puget Soundkeeper

Thank you for taking time to read about their cause and also for thinking what you can do to contribute to clean waterways here in the Northwest! Maybe I will see you out there 🙂

X.O. Abbey Co.

Group of kayakers with puget soundkeeper
The fantastic group of volunteers I had the chance to go out with!

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