Monday, April 28, 2008

Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll on the Charles

My Saturday morning was full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Well, kind of.

My employer organized a group to participate in the 9th Annual Charles River clean-up this past Saturday. Evidence of man's hedonistic nature was abound. We found more than one condom (sex), lots of syringes and plastic blunt tips (drugs), and dozens of green ear plugs (rock & roll, baby!).

We found all kinds of other trash, from hub caps to bottle caps, styrofoam Dunkin Donuts cups, plastic bags, and candy wrappers. We cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned, and there was still more trash. Kind of disgusting, really.

It's hard to believe that people used to swim in the Charles River! The photo on below shows Boston bathers on the Esplanade in the early 1900's.

Though swimming may not be the sport of choice in the Charles these days, in 2007 63% of the time the lower Charles' bacterial levels met the EPA's swimming standards... so it would have been safe to take a dip more often than not. And fortunately for those sailors among us, the Charles met boating standards 100% of the time. This is all according to data collected by the Charles River Watershed Association between Watertown Dam and Boston Harbor.

Interestingly, there are currently no swimmable urban rivers in the United States, though many European cities offer their citizens the benefit of a downtown river swim. If the Charles River continues on its current trajectory towards cleanliness, it could become the first urban American riverfront to offer its citizens a refreshing swim on a hot summer day.

If you would like to help the Charles River on its way, consider volunteering at one of these fine organizations:
Even if you don't want to join one of the groups above, you can help. Keep your trash in your pockets, or put it in a trash can. Bring a reusable travel coffee mug to your favorite caffeine distribution establishment. Don't leave your syringes by the river, people! Let's keep the river that runs through us clean, shall we?

Brave Bostonites swim a mile in the Charles River last year on one of the "safe" days.

Related Post: Bigfoot Seen in Charles?

Photo of the people picking up trash courtesy of my co-worker. That's me in the sunglasses!
Photo of the 1900's bathers
courtesy of the Charles River Conservancy.
Photo of swimmers in the Charles courtesy of the Living Root.

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