Posts Tagged ‘Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup’

The Maryland Push to Ban Styrofoam

February 2nd, 2017
by Laura Cattell Noll, Assistant Program Manager

In the last decade, communities throughout the Potomac River Watershed have taken substantive action to prevent litter, clean up communities and protect the water we drink.  Local jurisdictions in the Washington DC region have been national leaders in disposable bag laws, polystyrene foam bans and innovative social marketing campaigns.

The Maryland General Assembly is looking at the successes of these local jurisdictions and considering a state-wide ban on polystyrene. Commonly known as Styrofoam, polystyrene use poses risks to human health and threatens our drinking water.

Volunteer in yellow jacket carries beach-ball sized chunk of styrofoam away from the river.

A volunteer carries a large block of Styrofoam found on the shore of the Potomac River during a cleanup.

When hot food or beverages are placed in polystyrene food containers, they can leach toxic chemicals directly into our food. Scientists have found that most Americans have residues of these chemicals in their bodies. Because it is lightweight and floats, discarded polystyrene containers are often carried by runoff to storm drains and eventually  end up in local waterways. Over time, the polystyrene breaks into small pieces, but never decomposes. These small pieces absorb chemicals from the water and are readily ingested by fish.

For the last 29 years, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has organized the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup in collaboration with hundreds of partners throughout the region. Since its inception, more that 150,000 volunteers have removed more than 7 million pounds of trash. Our volunteers have consistently found that polystyrene food containers represent a significant portion of the trash in our communities and waterways.

Together we can make polystyrene a thing of the past! What will you do to help?

  • Call your legislator and tell them you support Senate Bill 186 and House Bill 229.
  • Pledge to go foam free by bringing your own reusable coffee mug.
  • Sign-up to volunteer for clean land, safe water and healthy communities.



April 1st kicked off Litter Enforcement Month. No joke!

April 3rd, 2013

Today begins a month-long effort by local police stations, sheriff’s offices, and other agencies to raise awareness about litter, illegal dumping and related crimes. It is our hope that by raising awareness and increasing enforcement efforts, more people will be convinced to change their littering habits. As Litter Enforcement Month gets underway, we encourage you show your solidarity with our partners by taking action. Here’s how:

  1. Choose not to litter and encourage others to do the same.
  2. Join us for our 25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup on April 6. Find sites here.
  3. Visit our website to read up on your local Litter Enforcement Month and your local Codes.
  4. Call 311 to report illegal dumping and other improperly disposed of trash.
  5. Join the discussion by posting a comment below. How important do you think enforcement is to solving litter in the Potomac?

Litter Enforcement Month also works to highlight the hard work that our partners do to tackle the issue of litter in their communities not just during April, but throughout the year. Even within one jurisdiction there are multiple agencies working on the issue of litter, LEM helps bring them together and highlight how much they do for our region. Whether they are ticketing people for littering, inspecting private properties, or picking up litter along our roadways, these agencies play an important role in helping keep the Potomac trash-free.D6_BusStop_Feet - Copy

This year’s Litter Enforcement Month has attracted a record number of agencies, 15 agencies from 12 jurisdictions. Some participants, such as Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and the City of Alexandria, have been with us since the beginning is 2008 when we initiated Litter Enforcement Week (expanded to a month-long effort in 2011). Others are joining us for the first time including Fairfax County, the Cities of Manassas and Falls Church, and the WMATA transit police. And for the first time we have non-code enforcement agencies, who will be reporting how much they cleanup during April, including Allegany County, the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center, the City of Alexandria’s Sheriff’s Office, and Prince William County’s Neighborhood Services Division. See the table below for a full list of participants.

We hope that Litter Enforcement Month along with our 25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, will help convince people to put their trash where it belongs and to take action in their lives and in their communities.LEM2013_participants

Fifth Annual Extreme Cleanup

March 12th, 2013

Guest Post by Karen Zeiter, Rock Creek Conservancy

kids on a rockRock Creek Conservancy is a nonprofit group working to protect the lands and waters of Rock Creek and revitalize Rock Creek Park for people to treasure and enjoy. We work through a combination of education, advocacy, and action.  Our strategy is to build partnerships with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, businesses, institutions, community groups, and residents to work together to preserve Rock Creek for present and future generations.

Each spring, we organize and promote the Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup, with trash cleanups at over 50 locations along the 33-mile length of Rock Creek. Our goal is total stream cleanup of Rock Creek and its tributaries, the parks connected to Rock Creek,and the neighborhoods near Rock Creek where trash originates. We work closely with the National Park Service and Montgomery County Parks.

The Extreme Cleanup is part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, which occurs in four states and the District of Columbia in April. We do our part for a trash-free Potomac River by cleaning up Rock Creek, which flows into the Potomac near the Watergate Complex and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

In the past four years, volunteers have collected a combined total of nearly 9,500 bags of litter, 60 tons of junk, 675 tires, and over 27,500 plastic bags. As a result of these efforts, many locations are much cleaner than before.

But trash still accumulates through littering and illegal dumping of large items, such as furniture and construction waste. When it rains, litter—mostly plastic bags and bottles—from the street gutters in surrounding neighborhoods wash into the storm sewer system that drains straight to the nearest creek.

This year will be our fifth Annual Extreme Cleanup, and we need your help to make it the best ever! Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, we want you alongside us this April!

Check out the 2013 Extreme Cleanup Map for sites that need leaders and other sites that are volunteer ready. Let us know if you would like to lead a group cleanup or join a group in your neighborhood or a park near you.