More Than 300,000 Pounds of Trash Collected and Removed During Regional Cleanup Event

Thousands of volunteers participate in this year’s 30th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

Drawing on data collected from 267 cleanup events across Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia, more than 9,700 volunteers collected 346,444 pounds of trash throughout the Potomac River watershed at this year’s Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. Several hundred organizations and groups partner in the effort each year.

“We are honored to be doing our small part for a healthy, clean river by connecting people and local organizations with the resources, support, and information they need to do community cleanups in their neighborhoods,” said Lori Arguelles, president and CEO of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. “The Potomac is one of the largest rivers that flows into the Chesapeake Bay, and, if you live in the area, it’s very likely that the river is your source of drinking and washing water. Littering, runoff, and trash contribute to a widespread problem that affects everyone.”

Nearly 90% of the 300 cleanup events organized throughout the month of April reported on the pounds of trash collected, the number of volunteers, and the instances of commonly found items at their cleanup sites. This year, volunteers reported collecting 862 tires, 11,034 plastic bags, 9,726 plastic straws, and 6,871 cigarettes collected from communities, parks, waterways and other locations across the region.

This year, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup participated in the Year of the Anacostia celebration by highlighting the nearly 50 cleanup events that happened within the Anacostia River watershed.

“The Year of the Anacostia is all about enjoying the Anacostia River and its parklands and building a better social and environmental future for the Nation’s Capital. The Alice Ferguson Foundation is doing critically important work teaching children and adults to understand, love and conserve the Anacostia,” Doug Siglin, executive director of the Anacostia Waterfront Trust.

The annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is one of many of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s programs designed to promote environmental sustainability in the region and connect people to the natural world. The Foundation’s Regional Litter Prevention Campaign, which empowers communities to “Take Control, Take Care of Your Trash,” led to a 30% reduction in observable littering behavior in the targeted District of Columbia neighborhoods between 2013 and 2015. Another program, Trash Free Schools, engages more than 2,000 students annually from more than 20 schools throughout the DC metro region.

Since it began thirty years ago, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has mobilized more than 150,000 volunteers to remove more than 7 million pounds of trash.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s educational programs unite students, educators, park rangers, communities, regional organizations, and government agencies throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to promote the environmental sustainability of the Potomac River watershed.

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