How Earth Day Pyeongtaek got started
In a hurry? Skip the story and scroll down for details about Earth Day Pyeongtaek.
I love Earth Day. I mean, of course everyone loves Earth Day, you are a monster if you don’t but hear me out. I love Earth Day because it makes me feel less guilty for the rest of the year. It’s true! Every time I walk to the market or school, I hate the thought of picking up cigarette butts and used paper towels with my bare hands. I inevitably spend all year looking at trash and having pangs of guilt. Then comes Earth Day and the guilt melts away. I get out there and clean up areas the kids and I play in and we work on our favorite trails. I should be cleaning all year but I don’t have the time, energy or drive for it and I don’t expect anyone else to either. That is where Earth Day comes in, to make me feel like a super hero.
During my first year of in South Korea there was no Earth Day, it passed just like any other day and the trash on the way to my kids school remained in the grass. Over time, things would get picked up then new trash would appear. It’s not one person’s fault, I’m not here to blame anyone. Trash is a fact of life and every country struggles with it. And I’m not the neighborhood trash hero, out every weekend cleaning up cigarette butts. That’s why I need a day to give me a chance to contribute and Earth Day has always been there for me.
After skipping last year, the kids asked if we were ever doing Earth Day again and I knew I wanted to make this happen. But as soon as I started the planning phase I came into a big problem with trash bags and I knew I couldn’t do this without the help of the City. Korea’s trash system is very different than what I’m used to and by having to buy specific government trash bags, average citizens are discouraged from cleaning up. I needed free trash bags but I wasn’t sure where to start. I employed the help of a friend of mine at PIEF and while she asked around I worked on fliers and plans with South of Seoul. Then the dreaded text message came in from my friend, “The city wants to ask you some questions about the trash bags, can you come over?” The pessimist in me freaked out and I thought the worst of what the city could possibly want; “They think Earth Day is nuts, Sig. Who gives out free trash bags?” “Why would anyone voluntarily spend a beautiful morning cleaning up someone else’s trash, what made me think I could explain Earth Day to a foreign country?” “Maybe, they think I’m just trying to get free trash bags for myself.” “Sig, you have lunch today at a new restaurant, do your socks match?!”
It looks like my pessimism needed a chill pill because not only did the city love my idea, they wanted to be a part of it! They will send me a list of problem areas in Paengseong and Songtan for those who want to organize a group cleanup and they will have their own government employee Earth Day where paid workers get out on the streets on April 21st to help start the cleanup. Keep an eye out for cleanup crews and send pictures. I want to see them!
Details for Earth Day Pyeongtaek 2017
What is Earth Day Pyeongtaek about?
Earth Day Pyeongtaek is for families and neighborhoods to get together for a day of outdoor trash cleanup. You don’t have to be a big group to participate in Earth Day. If you want to organize your own Earth Day event and need more members, send me a message at SigFlipsTheTable@gmail.com and I’ll help you advertise.
Better yet, head on over to Facebook and post your meetup in the Earth Day Pyeongtaek event page.
Where should we clean up?
Clean any outdoor space you want. This is a chance for you and your family to brighten up your little patch of earth. Playgrounds, school grounds, sidewalks, parks, rice fields, etc. Everything needs a little bit of love. I am planning on going out with my two boys and working on our favorite play areas, vegetable fields and walking trails.
The City suggested the following problem areas if anyone needs a location for their Earth Day event:
Outside of the Humphreys’ CPX Gate
Around the Songwha Elementary School (Up by Pizza School)
The Osan Ville Area
Please be safe when cleaning up. A Saturday morning should be rather quiet but the roadways should be avoided if at all possible. Regular clean up crews work on the roadways every week, let’s get to those hard to reach areas that stay neglected all year long.
What supplies do I need?
- Get blue 20 liter government trash bags for Earth Day Pyeongtaek at the Paengseong or Songtan Pyeongtaek International Exchange Foundation from Monday, April 17 to Friday, April 21. Please take only as many bags as you need. Remember, a lot of items can be recycled. One to two bags per family should be plenty.
- Use clear/ see through trashbags for recyclable items.
- You will need to provide your own gloves, trash sticks and/or tongs. I have found long tongs at a small store right next door to Artcamp for very cheap. I re-use the tongs later for more cleanup around my house or to push hot coals on my grill.
What do I do with the trash?
Dispose of trash in the blue bags and recyclables in clear bags and drop off at any local garbage stop.
Do you want to see photos of our Earth Day hard work?
YES! Please post your Earth Day photos publicly to Facebook or on Twitter with one of the following hashtags and you’ll be entered to win a gift certificate to the PUB210 restaurant in Paengseong. I would love before and afters, group photos, piles of trash bag photos etc. Thank you South of Seoul for helping. All drawings are random.
We may contact you for permission to use your photos in the city newspaper, on blogs or by PIEF. But don’t worry, we’ll ask you first before publishing your photos.