LARGEST LITTER CLEANUP SERVES AS CALL TO ACTION: Video Contest Launched as Part of Search for Solutions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 5, 2013

(Washington, DC)  Thousands of regional residents are expected to participate in the 25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup on April 6th, the largest litter cleanup in this region. Since 1989, the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) has coordinated the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup every April, engaging more than 110,000 volunteers in conjunction with nearly 500 partner organizations in order to remove nearly 6 million pounds of trash from hundreds of sites throughout the five states of the Potomac River Watershed.

“We know the efforts of these volunteers have had a big impact and we are grateful for their dedication,” said AFF Board President Mike Herman. “However, to have a lasting impact what we really need are institutions, infrastructure, and policies in place that will significantly reduce litter in the Potomac Watershed.” The annual Cleanup is part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s larger Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, which has advocated for increased litter enforcement, source reduction policies, widespread public education, comprehensive improvement in solid waste management, and increased regulation through MS4 permits.

“The 25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is a great opportunity to remind Maryland that we need every citizen to participate in the clean-up of our waterways and everyone to fight for clean water laws. I’m thrilled to join all my friends in such a fun and meaningful outdoor venture,” said Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin (D-District 20, Montgomery County), one of many elected officials participating in the Cleanup.

Policy efforts such as the reusable bag legislation adopted by Montgomery County in 2011 and the District of Columbia in 2010 have proved effective, resulting in a 50% reduction of plastic bags found during cleanups in those jurisdictions and Rock Creek Park. In partnership with the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Rock Creek Conservancy has been leading the Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup for five years and has seen great progress in litter reduction. “In the past several years, we have made a visible and measurable difference through our efforts, but there is still trash out there,” said Beth Mullin, Executive Director of the Rock Creek Conservancy. “We want to do our part for a trash free Potomac Watershed by having a trash free Rock Creek.”

“We need to be bolder and more innovative in our approach,” said AFF Executive Director Lori Arguelles.  “Reusable bag legislation IS effective and jurisdictions that want to embrace it should be allowed to do so.  Making small changes in our individual actions can have a powerful, collective impact,” she noted while announcing the launch of a video contest designed to engage residents from across the region in litter prevention. The winning videos will be used in AFF’s Regional Litter Prevention Campaign to raise public awareness and understanding of the pervasive problem of trash; encourage people citizens to change their behavior; and ultimately to reduce the amount of litter reaching our waterways. The winning video will receive a $1,000 prize. (fergusonfoundation.org/video-contest/)

Coinciding with the annual Cleanup the 3rd Annual Litter Enforcement Month (LEM) will be taking place throughout April.  During the month, participating jurisdictions will be actively enforcing pre-existing litter laws with the objective to raise awareness of litter, illegal dumping and related crimes; the laws associated with them, and their effects on our communities, our economy, and the Potomac River watershed. Participating jurisdictions in Maryland include the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office; Montgomery County Police; and Prince George’s County Police. In Virginia participating entities include the Alexandria Police; Alexandria Code Administration; Alexandria Sheriff’s Office; Prince William County Police; Prince William County Neighborhood Services; Fairfax County Police; Falls Church City Police; Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center; and the Manassas City Police. Other participating jurisdictions include the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police; Metro Transit Police; and the United States Park Police.

The Cleanup is sponsored by REI; Telemundo; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program; Skanska Infrastructure Development; Mom’s Organic Market; ExxonMobil; Washington Gas; Beveridge & Diamond; Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation; Gangplank Marina Slipholders Association; Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company; Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources; and Starbucks.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation connects people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy. AFF operates the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center—a 330-acre working farm located on the shorelines of the Potomac River south of Washington, D.C.  As we fulfill our mission of connecting people to nature and inspiring actions that sustain our world, we provide environmental education programs at Hard Bargain Farm and through our Bridging the Watershed program at National Parks throughout the Potomac River Watershed.  Our Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative seeks systemic solutions to the persistent problem of trash.  Learn more at www.fergusonfoundation.org

Comments are closed.