By Jason Von Kundra, EAG Co-Chair

On Saturday morning, April 15, members of the Environmental Action Group participated in the inaugural Mason Beautification Day. According to Environmental Action Group member and history major Anthony Murray, “Cleaning our campus is an important thing do; the trash that we collected would otherwise likely end up in the Chesapeake Bay, polluting our water and endangering the wildlife that live there.”

According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, more than 16 million people live in the Bay’s watershed. “I think a lot of people take it for granted,” said Murray. “Many people don’t realize how important it really is, but the Bay truly is an integral part of Virginia’s economy and its very identity. Without the Bay, Virginia would be a very different, and [a] much less wonderful state.”

According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the Bay, the destruction that has been wreaked on the Bay has been staggering. “Since colonial times, the Bay has lost half of its forested shorelines, over half of its wetlands, nearly 90 percent of its underwater grasses and more than 98 percent of its oysters.”

Emily Miles, co-chair of the Environmental Action Group, says keeping our environment healthy, including the Chesapeake Bay and other bodies of water in Virginia, requires both individual responsibility as well as government action. “First of all, the state and local governments must increase public access to the Bay and its tributaries,” Miles said. “Right now, access [to the Bay] is limited; it is difficult for many people in Virginia to even get to the water, so there is little incentive for many people to care about something that they perceive as a playground for the wealthy folks that can afford homes on the beach.” Miles continued, “Additionally, governments must strengthen and enforce existing laws that prevent pollution from ever entering the Bay or other waterways. Beach clean-ups are great, but obviously they are not the solution because the litter on the beach is not even the problem, it is a symptom of the problem. The real problem is that without access to the water, people can’t appreciate it, and when they can’t appreciate it, they are unwilling to do their part to protect it.”

Environmental Action Group member and health, fitness and recreational resources major Masooma Munir added, “It felt good to give back to my environment that gives me so much. It’s nice to know that it will be a little less dirty because of what I did. It was a lot of fun.” Worth noting is the fact that Environmental Action Group members collected 3,586 cigarette butts.

This effort is part on the Environmental Action Group’s ongoing efforts to give back to the community through clean-ups and other similar activities. Anyone interested in helping should contact the EAG via e-mail at