It Only Takes a Moment to Make an Impact


Somewhere between scrolling through Facebook, checking the weather forecast, browsing recipes, and soaking in the latest celebrity gossip I realized that I was pointlessly wasting my phone data and missing out on glorious vitamin D as I waited in the car while Aaron ran into 392 Caffe for some breakfast. I decided to take advantage of those few moments of boredom and pick up some litter around the perimeter of the parking lot. We always keep trash bags and gloves in the trunk for moments like this, so I grabbed some supplies and got to cleaning!

As I approached the edge of the parking lot it was clear to see that the entire fence line was completely littered with trash. Taco sauce packets, soda cans and bottles, cigarette butts, even a flip flop were filed away, handful by handful, into the bag. Within about 10 minutes I had finished cleaning up the eastern edge of the lot, nearly filling a large trash bag. I looked up to see Aaron returning with our lattes so I tossed the bag into the dumpster in the parking lot (yes, there was a dumpster mere steps away from all this trash), cleaned up with some antibacterial hand wipes, and continued my day as planned.

This small effort had no impact on my otherwise busy day, but did wonders for the cleanliness of the community. Based on my observations, litter accumulates quickly. When people see an area with a lot of trash, they almost assume it is okay to litter there or that their piece of garbage won’t make a difference. But it is not okay, and it does make a difference. Each individual piece of trash adds up, and besides just being an eyesore, it is dangerous to wildlife and can have a devastating effect on our environment. Check out this article about the harmful effects of litter to see how it can impact animals and humans alike for generations.

The most important thing you can do is to prevent it – don’t litter. Keep an ashtray cup in your car, go out of your way to pick up that Polar Pop cup or fast food bag if it gets carried away with the breeze, and always think before you throw. The planet deserves better, the community deserves better, your family deserves better.

Secondly, do something about the current problem! Bring a grocery bag with you when you walk your dog and pick up litter instead of just walking by. Keep trash bags in your car and take a moment to pick up an area if it has a problem – I like to hop out of the car and do a quick litter sweep when I get stuck by a train! Take advantage of those bored moments to do something positive for the environment. If you have an hour or two to dedicate to the cause, join Up to Earth for one of our daily cleanups! We post schedules on our Facebook community page so be sure to “Like” us to stay up-to-date on upcoming events!

What kinds of things do you do to keep your environment clean? Please share in the comments section so we can all collaborate on ideas for incorporating community beautification into our daily lives!

Tomorrow: Joyce Island 2.0


Thursday, August 6th is Up to Earth’s second group cleanup effort at Joyce Island. The first was a major success even with a modest count of just 10 volunteers. We pulled out 16 bags of trash as well as many other large items, reducing the pollution of our beloved bike path and beautiful Mississippi River. We focused on the entry area of Joyce Island from the bike path, down the rocks, into the woods, and to the riverbanks. This time we work our way farther into the island with the meet up station at the covered pavilion so we will now have a sheltered area to sort out the recyclable items.

Stop by between 9:30 am and 7:30 pm for as long as you would like. All supplies including trash bags, gloves, water and lunch will be provided by the hosts from Up to Earth. And since this is a sponsored Living Lands & Waters Great Mississippi River Cleanup event, volunteers will also get a cool t-shirt! Stop by for an hour or 10 with your working shoes and get ready to have fun while beautifying Clinton and helping our environment.

If you can’t help out in person this time there are lots of other ways to get involved!

Follow our Facebook community page at

Join our Facebook group to find out about future group cleanup events at

Or you can donate to the cause directly to help with the costs of supplies, transportation and proper disposal of trash, food for volunteers, etc. at

We hope to see lots of smiling, ambitious faces at Joyce Island 2.0 tomorrow! Come by and show your support for the cause and do your part to keep our earth clean and our environment safe and healthy for our families and community!

The Roots of Up to Earth

Hi there and thanks for visiting our blog! As this is my first post as a contributor, I figured this was a good time to introduce myself. My name is Kim and the journey to where I am today began when I decided to break free from the treadmill grind and move my running routine outdoors.

SC running trail

On a wooded trail in South Carolina was where my love and appreciation for nature truly began to flourish. The fresh air, greenery, and wildlife were peaceful and inspiring, and the first time my shoe hit the dirt I knew I wasn’t going back to the gym.

When I moved back to my hometown in Illinois I switched to road running out of convenience and it provided all the things I enjoyed about trail running with the added benefit of easily accessible water and the safety of not being alone in the middle of the woods. It wasn’t long before I started noticing litter on the streets, and since it was easy enough to pick up random pieces and throw them in people’s trash cans as I jogged by, I decided to take the initiative to do my part to clean up and beautify my quaint little town.

I soon started identifying problem areas during my runs and set out with a trash bag afterwards with the sole purpose of picking up a block or two. The stray styrofoam cup or potato chip bag are eye-catching from the street, but when you actually get up close you find that the problem is much worse. Pieces of broken glass, plastic lids, crushed cans buried halfway in the dirt – they’re there and they’re not going anywhere until somebody cleans them up.

It was about this time that I was reacquainted with high school friend, Aaron, who just so happened to have started cleaning up trash himself. We decided to team up and found that the impact is greater and much more noticeable when working together – and so the grassroots unity effort of Up to Earth was born.

We are here to encourage people to be mindful of their consumption and waste, inspire others to do their part to clean and beautify their neighborhoods and the planet, and bring individuals together in our effort to restore nature to a more organic state. We hope our passion will encourage you to take responsibility for the future of our planet and take steps, no matter how small, to make our earth a cleaner, safer, more beautiful place to live.


In what ways are you already making an effort to reduce your environmental impact? Do you recycle? Use reusable grocery bags? Or do you need help getting started? Feel free to ask in the comments, we’re here to help!

Joyce Island Cleanup 1.0

A few shots from our first official Up To Earth cleanup
A few shots from our first official Up To Earth cleanup

The first official Up To Earth Volunteer cleanup event at Joyce Island was on July 5th, 2015. Everything went smoothly and we got a lot accomplished as well as some new insights about how we can make a bigger impact looking into the future.

Here’s the stats..

Volunteers: 9 people (including us)

Total Volunteer Hours: 47 hrs.

Area Covered: Approximately 28 Acres (One Million Square Feet!)

We picked up:

* 1 Tent

* 1 Matress

* 1 Lawn Chair

* 1 Pesticide Container

* 3 Very Large Pieces of Styrofoam

Plus 16 Large Trash Bags sorted into:

* 100 lbs. of Landfill Waste

* 2 30 Gallon tubs of Recyclable Plastic

* 1 30 Gallon tub of Dirty or Nonrecyclable Plastic

* 1 30 Gallon tub of Polystyrene and Foam (Non-recyclable)

* 1 Partial tub of Scrap Metal

* 1 Partial tub of Refundable Cans and Bottles

* 1 Partial tub of Hazardous Materials (Aerosol Cans, Chemical Containers, etc)

* 1 Partial tub of Broken Glass

Best of:

* 1 Whole Turtle Shell

* 9 Lighters

* 1 Baseball

* 1 Golfball

* 1 Antique Pabst Can

* 1 Partial Hannah Montana Jump Rope

Things that were very common:

* Plastic and Glass Bottles

* Aluminum Cans

* Plastic Bags

* Polystyrene/Styrofoam

-Polar Ice cups

-Bait containers

-Broken Styrofoam pieces

* Broken Glass

* Snack food wrappers (Chips, Candy, etc.)

* Fast food packaging (Cups, Wrappers, Bags)

* Cigarette Butts

* Clothing (Shoes, Socks, Shirts, Pants, Coats)

* Fishing goods (Poles, Lures, Line, Bobbers, Bait Containers)

We got a lot accomplished with only 9 people total throughout the day. Our next event is Saturday, July 11th and we’ve decided to just focus on Joyce Island for the next cleanup or two. Please let me know if you can attend for an hour or more, and RSVP to the Facebook event if you care to.

Big thanks to everyone who showed up to help or helped by donating items or money for supplies! We couldn’t do it without you.

Volunteers :

Myself and Kimberly

Adam Ouderkirk

Sherri Stiles

Jason Jones

JoEllen Hill

Matt Nivens

Jeremy Delgado

Andrea Nicole


Steve Hill

Brian J. Strunk

Adam Fritz

Linda Welch


Living Lands & Waters

Hy-Vee, Clinton,  IA

Howard’s Tap, Albany, IL

Special thanks:

Dan Breidenstein at Living Lands & Waters

Officer Ben Huizenga for lending a hand and supporting our cause.

The kid who pulled out 2 bags of garbage for us on his own time.

Other people who stopped to thank us or showed interest in becoming involved.