Sri Sathya Sai Baba has constantly stressed the importance of treating our natural resources with love, humility and respect and keeping the planet sustainable for future generations. In keeping with His message and to commemorate the nationwide Day of Sai and Sustainability, about 35 volunteers of the Sri Sathya Sai Centers of Chicagoland, - namely, Chicago Metro, Chicago West and Chicago North Suburbs - gathered on April 9, 2022, for a cleanup service at the Busse Forest Preserve in Elk Grove Village, IL.

Sai volunteers, including children, young adults and adults, gathered at the camp site at 9:45 am. The morning began with a bhajan (devotional song). Volunteers then dispersed with their safety gear and cleanup tools such as safety vests, gloves, claw pick up/grabbers, trash bags and recycle bags, to pick up litter on the ground left by visitors and campers at the preserve. The litter mostly composed of empty plastic bottles, bottle caps, balloons, plastic cutlery, confetti, plastic bags, etc. The cleanup also involved segregating trash from recyclables.

As volunteers spent time cleaning up the nature preserve, they reflected on the adverse impact humans have on nature by the trash they consciously and unconsciously create. For example, confetti - small pieces of colored paper primarily composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) - release micro plastics into the air, which can take 1,000 years to break down. Hence, a quick burst of fun can leave a lasting impact on the planet, and put wildlife and marine life at risk. As volunteers picked up every piece of confetti, they understood that even as small as they are, confetti can have huge adverse environmental impact. As a big takeaway, every volunteer, including children, made a promise to avoid the use of confetti during any celebration.

The litter cleanup service continued for two hours and many volunteers expressed an interest to make this a monthly service project through the summer. While nature cleanup is rewarding, reducing trash should be the bigger goal for all of us. As Sri Sathya Sai Baba has stressed, we need to tread softly, make the least impact and always be grateful for the bountiful abundance that Nature has blessed us with.