COMMUNITY LEADERS GUIDING OTHERS, BRINGING A SENSE OF HOPE DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES
Colin West, Founder of Clean up the Lake
By Natasha Bourlin
Colin West went from creating multiple television shows on wine to eradicating waste from Lake Tahoe. Quite the career leap.
Working on film projects helped him form a nonprofit incorporating his production skills into a Tahoe-wide effort to remove trash from the lake. The nonprofit Clean Up the Lake was born.
Thousands of pounds of refuse have since been removed by SCUBA divers helping to save the environment from under the water’s surface, while videographers illustrate the effort.
“Looking at Tahoe, everyone sees it as beautiful, but if you look under the surface both literally and figuratively, there are issues, management problems and trash,” West explains. “What really caught my eye was a SCUBA cleanup the same day I was doing a shore clean up that pulled up 600 pounds of trash from one little cove.”
With a plethora of causes to delve into, why choose to explore the depths of Tahoe’s trash situation?
Well, it’s tough to dismiss an issue people can actually see.
I believe that if everyone really puts their heart into it, they can really make a difference, and when it comes to trash it’s one of the global issues that’s very visible. You can really quantify it and can’t deny it.
“I would love to fight and solve climate change and pollution globally and socially, but unfortunately you can only do so much,” West says. “I believe that if everyone really puts their heart into it, they can really make a difference, and when it comes to trash it’s one of the global issues that’s very visible. You can really quantify it and can’t deny it.”
Logistics for West’s team have been hampered by the COVID-19 crisis, however. The need to be socially distant makes efforts trickier, while fundraising for this six-figure endeavor has also been adversely impacted. To help the project, Clean Up the Lake seeks support in the form of capital donations such as boats and jet skis, corporate and individual partnerships along with financial help.
But adversity won’t stop the mission. Plans for a 72-mile perimeter clean-up have been rescheduled for summer 2021. West and his team continue to head underwater, returning with trash each time. Thankfully, seeing the positive results with every dive continues to inspire him. cleanupthelake.org