By Ashleigh Easley | Thursday, April 15, 2021

In the spring of 1970, Sen. Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to force the issue of making sustainable decisions onto the national agenda. Decades later, and April 22 is celebrated widely – especially in conscious, Earth-loving communities such as Lake Tahoe.


Amongst the several events that will be happening around the lake, Incline Village General Improvement District will be hosting an Earth Day Cleanup on Friday, April 23.


“We’ve been working with the League [to Save Lake Tahoe] to coordinate at least three cleanups a year,” Madonna Dunbar, IVGID Resource Conservationist said. “People can come by and pick up tools to pick up litter, sign a waiver, pick a location, then we’ll have you go out and do your trash pickup.”


When Earth Day volunteers head out into the community to pick up trash, they will also be encouraged to learn what Dunbar calls “trash science.”


“When our volunteers head out, we strongly encourage them to write down their data,” Dunbar said. “We really appreciate the data we can collect. We pick up the litter and pick up the information on the litter, then that information is funneled up to the League; so, in the future that data can be incredibly useful when talking about the problems of pollution, garbage, how much is really out there, what it’s really doing, and how to mitigate it.”


Volunteers will be able to collect their trash science data traditionally through pen and paper, or through the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s Citizen Science mobile app. This app will allow volunteers to record their itemized trash findings, and the League will also be able to collect numeric data as it comes in.


Another segment of data that has made these Earth Day cleanup events a vital occasion is the massive uptick in human population throughout surrounding Tahoe communities. With large population growth, hosted cleanups are vital now more than ever.


“There were some stark changes to briefly halt pollution during the initial quarantine last year when no one was going out normally and the world kept carrying on naturally,” Brendan Schantz, Incline Village Rotary Club Member said. “But with the immense increase of new population in Incline Village, pollution is a lot more noticeable.”


For the in-person physical trash cleanup that IVGID is hosting, volunteers are required to wear a mask, stay socially distanced from others, and abide by Covid-19 guidelines. Volunteers can be assured that IVGID is taking all the precautions necessary to keep everyone safe during this physical cleanup event.


If volunteering to do in-person litter cleanup isn’t possible for you, there are multiple, interactive events that local organizations will be hosting completely online.


  1. The League to Save Lake Tahoe is hosting ‘Tahoe’s Trash Pickup Challenge: Earth Week Edition’ from April 19-25 where individuals can clean up any day, any time, and use the Litter and Trash Report feature through the Citizen Science app. This event allows anyone around the lake to record their trash findings and report them directly to the League. The League will also be hosting a Trash Pickup Challenge Raffle, and volunteers can submit data or a photo from their cleanup to win. For more info, visit: https://www.keeptahoeblue.org/news/events/Tahoes-Trash-Pickup-Challenge-Earth-Week-Edition


  1. In alliance with multiple organizations around Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada Alliance is hosting an all-online ‘Earth Week Challenge.’ This online contest includes collaboration with agencies such as Take Care Tahoe, Drink Tahoe Tap, Sierra State Parks Foundation, and more. The contest will be running all week long from April 19-24 with daily themes. Enter to win by posting photos each day that correspond with the daily theme. Tag @sierranevadaalliance and hashtag #sierraearthweek2021 to be entered to win prizes. For more info, visit: https://sierranevadaalliance.org/earth-day/#mon


With both online and in-person activities available, it’s easy to participate in the events that are happening in Tahoe communities.


Throughout the week, locals are encouraged to not only participate in these Earth Day activities, but also utilize the sustainable resources that are readily available in Incline Village year-round.


“Earth Day is mostly about raising awareness and how the rest of the 364 days you can help leave the Earth just a little bit better than you came into it,” Schantz said. “Utilize your readily available resources. 100% compostable dog poop bags are available through Pet Network and IVGID, T’s Rotisserie uses compostable plastic, NuLeaf re-established that you can bring in your used bag to purchase products, and Raley’s accepts reusable bags again; so just utilize your community resources to stay sustainable.”


It’s worth noting that these trash cleanup events don’t just benefit community members and local neighborhoods, but also benefit the lake’s long-term wellbeing.


“Even though this trash pickup takes place on land, it protects Lake Tahoe’s water,” Dunbar said. “That’s a really important piece that many people don’t always see. We don’t have trash interceptors in the streams or infrastructure. If it’s on the ground, it’s there until someone removes it.”


Volunteer efforts are hugely appreciated by all the community organizations that put forth the effort to host in-person or online events, and it’s important to keep a ‘green’ mindset not just on Earth Day, but every day.


“We’ve been picking up litter since the first Earth Day in 1970 but there’s still such a need for it,” Dunbar said. “Any volunteers that can provide small or large contributions – they really all make such a difference.”


For more information on Earth Day activities happening around Lake Tahoe, visit:


  1. https://sierranevadaalliance.org/earth-day/
  2. https://takecaretahoe.org/earthweek2021/
  3. https://www.keeptahoeblue.org/news/events/2021-Earth-Month-Activities 
About the Author Ashleigh Easley
Digital Marketing Specialist for IVCBA