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Great Lakes Program: Local Activists

Check out what Sierra Club members in the Great Lakes region are doing to restore and protect this vital resource.

Robbyn McKie-Holzworth: Rochester, New York

Robbyn McKie-Holzworth and her husband care deeply about the Great Lakes. In fact, they love the Lakes so much that they decided that they needed to live within walking distance of Lake Ontario. In addition, they decided to say goodbye to water bootless to protect the Great Lakes from diversion. Specifically, they installed a reverse osmosis water filter. According to Robbyn, "The water tastes great and we don't have nearly the amount of recycling due to plastic water bottles." Read Sierra Club's brochure for more information, "Bottled Water: Learning the Facts and Taking Action."


Craig Ressler and Sue Norman: Caledonia, MI
Photo Credit: Advance Newspapers

Craig Ressler and Sue Norman believe it's a basic responsibility for those living in the Great Lakes region to reduce global warming emissions and to conserve Great Lakes water. That's why Craig and Sue bought a front loading washing machine – so they could not only save energy and water but money, too! According to the EPA, a front-loading washing machine saves 7,000 gallons of water per year, compared to what a top loading washing machine that uses 13,500 gallons of water per year. That's three backyard pools filled up in savings!


Don Hughes and Italia Millan: Auburn Hills, MI
Photo Credit: Italia Millan

Their neighbors encourage them to spray their lawn with chemicals; however Don Hughes and Italia Millan just say "no" to pesticides on their lawn. They know that rainwater in their area runs into a storm drain that directly feeds the Clinton River in Michigan – the same river that they enjoy hiking on. In addition to not using pesticides, they lead a storm drain stenciling project in their community. During the warm months, they organize a local Sierra Club team to stencil storm drains with a stencil that reads, "Dump No Waste, Drains to River."


Peter and Anne Bray: Birmingham, MI
Photo Credit: Italia Millan

The Brays care about the Great Lakes because the Lakes are one of the largest bodies of relatively clean fresh water left in the World. That explains why the Bray's shifted to planting native species and creating rain gardens to protect our magnificent Lakes. The Brays understand that eventually excess chemicals find their way into waterways and inevitably pollute the Lakes with toxins. The Brays have created rain gardens throughout their property. Rain gardens are environmentally friendly and beautiful alternatives to a lawn. They retain, absorb and filter rainwater run off, reducing flooding as well as pollutants that end up in our streams and rivers. Rain gardens also create a habitat for wildlife and attract butterflies and birds. They are not high maintenance as they do not require mowing, fertilization, or water, which saves people cash and time while protecting the environment!


Diane and Carl Meyer: Sault Sainte Marie, MI
Photo Credit: Chris Rhue

Diane and Carl Meyer live next door to the Hobbins-Meyer Nature Preserve. They think the Great Lakes are amazing and are a real gift to people. That's why they do all that they can to minimize their impact on the water. Not only do Diane and Carl help with the Sault Are Watershed Project, they also don’t use pesticides, fertilizers, and non-toxic cleaning agents. They do plant native species and use a low-flow showerhead and front-loading washing machine.


Jeff Sytsma: Racine, WI

Jeff Sytsma is a member of Sierra Club's Southeast Gateway Group in Wisconsin and he has been leading the Group's efforts to install rain barrels in the Racine-Kenosha area. Rain barrels collect rainwater from downspouts and prevent it from running onto paved areas and eventually into the sewers and our lakes. The collected rainwater can instead be reused for activities such as watering dry parts of your lawn, garden and flower beds. Jeff knows having a rain barrel is a good start to understanding storm water run-off and how it affects our Great Lakes. He is also able to enjoy the benefits of good and free water.


More: Sierra Club Activists Explain Storm Drain Stenciling
Watch our video!

If you live in Southeast Michigan, go to for information on how you can get involved locally.

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