NWIC Earth Day events included beach cleanup, garbage sort

Northwest Indian College student Charlotte Penn pulls part of an old boat out of the water April 20 during an Earth Week beach cleanup organized by the college’s Indigenous Service Learning department and sustainability committee.While the sun warmed the skin and blooming flowers filled the air with a scent we only get to experience for a couple of months of each year, Northwest Indian College (NWIC) students walked Lummi shores with their heads down and large, black plastic garbage bags in hand.

The students, joined by NWIC staff and faculty and a Bellingham community member, were helping to clean up the beach on April 20 as part of Earth Day celebrations at the college, which took place April 19-23.

“We want to celebrate the earth and honor the earth every day and Earth Week is a time for us to remember our connection to the earth,” said Ane Berrett, director of NWIC’s Indigenous Service Learning Department, which cosponsored the event with the Sustainability Committee.

When they finished, they had a pile of 15 bulging garbage bags and were rewarded with a pizza lunch. Cleanup materials and the food were provided by Lummi Natural Resources.

“It was really a wonderful experience,” Berrett said. “Everyone who attended realized the small part they can do to keep the beaches clean. It seems overwhelming alone, but with more hands and more consciousness about how these plastics get in our water, we can do it.”

In addition to the beach cleanup, the celebrations included a plant workshop, documentaries, a food harvest and horticulture workshop, a garbage sort, and a nettle workshop provided by Vanessa Cooper, NWIC’s Traditional Plants and Foods program coordinator.

“We got to taste nettle pesto, nettle stir fry and a nettle smoothie. They were delicious,” Berrett said.