Posts Tagged ‘Cleanup’

Pursuing The Usual Suspects: A Cleanup Story

April 5th, 2017

Those who have participated in a cleanup understand that while the items found span the whole spectrum, they’re usually all made from a few consistent materials. From straws to plastic bags, random toys to little bits of Styrofoam and food wrappers, the majority of products are plastic and single use items. Cleanups offer experiential learning opportunities that can raise awareness and change behavior.

“This has been an eye opening experience…” said Khara Norris, a cleanup volunteer. “We are finding a lot of Styrofoam. I am never buying Styrofoam again.” 

One volunteer who knows all too well these cleanup materials has been participating in the Potomac Cleanup for more than a decade:

While hiking and enjoying the Potomac shoreline, experienced cleanup volunteer Lyle has closely observed, documented, and photographed the seemingly never-ending and wide variety of trash that washes ashore. He has dubbed several categories of trash as “the Usual Suspects,” as they are found on every outing. These include tennis balls (Lyle has picked up several thousand), disposal lighters, flip flops and shoes of every type, pens, plastic lids, straws, and emergency road flares.

Lyle and Dave at Chapman Forest

 

When he led last year’s cleanup event, it was a volunteer trifecta! Eric Celarier, a local artist, joined the efforts in search for trash for their latest piece. Lyle led Eric to the trash hot spots and even donated his distinguished collection to the project. David Howe, another volunteer, and his crew from the Institute of Maritime History, provided 3 boats to help haul trash from the shoreline to the collection site (a huge help!). The boats also provided transit to additional access points. One of the biggest finds was an eight-foot-long picnic table that washed ashore and has since been refinished and reused.

On April 8, and throughout the rest of the month, volunteers will once again unite for the 29th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. Last year, nearly 10,000 volunteers came out and removed more than 300,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. What will they find this year?

Visit PotomacCleanup.org to find a cleanup site near you, or to host your own.

 

What’s Your Cleanup Story?

March 29th, 2017
by Hannah Seligmann, Volunteer Coordinator

 
I am humbled by the dedication of the people who protect, volunteer for, and preserve the water we drink. Since 1989, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has mobilized thousands of volunteers to be part of the solution for clean water.

Here are a few of their stories:

4) Jim Heins
Each year, Jim Heins leads eight cleanup sites along the C&O Canal and connects with thousands of local people interested in participating. Many of the volunteers come back year after year – and some even become site leaders for their own cleanups!  At the end of the day, Jim and another volunteer, Skip Magee, go around to each site and sort through the blue recycling bags to ensure the county receives only the material that can be recycled.

PathToGreatness
Though new to organizing cleanups, Michelle Haywood and the team at Path to Greatness, are skilled at connecting with community members. Last year, they arranged for nearly 50 volunteers to remove more than 300 pounds of trash at Oxon Cove National Park. This is just a snapshot of the year-round cleanups at Oxon Cove Park (every first Sunday of the month!).

5) Friends of Accotink Creek
The Friends of Accoktink Creek
are incredible stewards of their local creek. They lead dozens of cleanup sites during the month of April, engaging hundreds of neighbors to get their “brains wet and hands dirty”. Stay tuned to learn about their upcoming Trash Day of Action: Battle of the Bottle!

 

To live your own cleanup reality, visit PotomacCleanup.org. Last year 9,465 volunteers removed more than 300,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. Can we count on you this year?

  • VOLUNTEER by picking up trash! Choose from hundreds of events listed on our website.
  • LEAD a cleanup in your community! Register online and invite friends, family, and coworkers. We will provide you with supplies and logistics.

The 29th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is April 8, 2017. This regional event for clean land, safe waters, and healthy lives will continue throughout the entire month of April. 

2016 in Review: What’s going on in the Trash World?

January 24th, 2017
by Julia Saintz, Community Outreach Coordinator

 

At the beginning of a new year, we pause to reflect on recent successes of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative.  This past year was filled with proud moments for environmental educators, litter fanatics, and volunteers in action.

Keeping the conversation going

A little over a decade ago, we launched a multi-jurisdictional, region-wide conversation about the issue of trash with the first ever Trash Summit. As a result, more than 100 officials signed a treaty pledging their commitment to the issue.  Spring 2016 saw the 10th annual trash summit, Transforming Communities, which convened nearly 200 community members and representatives to talk about the issue of trash in the region’s waterways and what can be done about it. In the fall, just a little over a decade after the first Trash Treaty was signed, officials from the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County came together to renew their commitment with the Anacostia River Accord. 

Officials at table shake hands after signing the Anacostia Accord.

 

Inspired by our volunteers

Each April, we celebrate Earth Month with an enormous region-wide cleanup effort. In 2016, our team helped organize more than 9,400 volunteers for the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup who removed more than 330,000 pounds of trash at 265 sites! Volunteers from across four states and the District of Columbia came out to clean up their neighborhoods, roads, parks, and waterways. Even after three decades of organizing this event, the passion and community commitment to our environment and waterways continues to inspire.

Group of kids in bright yellow vests roll a discarded tire out of the woods and towards a road.

 

Youth and leadership

This summer, we also launched the Watershed Leadership Program, which teaches young people about the watershed, the importance of proper waste management and how to lead a successful watershed cleanup. The program engaged youth from the Student Conservation Association and the Green Zone Environmental Program of the Department of Energy and the Environment in the District of Columbia. This program joins initiatives like Trash Free Schools and Trash Free Classrooms in working to engage the next generation and give them the tools to make a green difference in their community.

Three children sit on playground fence holding bright yellow trash bags.

 

Keep an eye out for more in 2017:

  • In 2016, we continued to refine our litter prevention campaign with brand new social marketing research to help us better reach millennials and Spanish-speakers. What did we find? Messaging focused on healthy communities and drinking water was most effective with those groups. Based on these results, our campaign has been updated and will be unveiled soon!
  • The Alice Ferguson Foundation is excited to partner with Rock Creek Conservancy for a three-year project to create a D.C. Adopt a Stream Program.
  • If you live in DC, you’ll be seeing more of us. This year, our Litter Prevention team will be working in all 8 wards of DC!
  • Keep an eye out for our 11th Annual Trash Summit, coming this autumn.
  • As of January 1, 2017, the District of Columbia joins Prince George’s County in implementing a Foam Ban, requiring food service packaging to be made from recyclable or compostable materials only. This is great news; Styrofoam is one of the most toxic and least degradable plastics out there. Be ready to support upcoming legislation on Foam Bans in other jurisdictions! 

 

Ready to dive into 2017 with us? Sign up for our mailing list to stay on top upcoming events, cleanups, and happenings.

 

 

Introducing the Shepherd Parkway Call to Action

September 16th, 2014

By Nathan Harrington, Chair of Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway

Nathan Harrington is a cleanup leader who has devoted himself to cleaning up Shepherd Parkway, a large park 

 change behaviors, through our Regional Litter Prevention Campaign, and by working with local leaders and community members to raise awareness about the park and the resources it needs to thrive.in southeast District of Columbia. Now he is taking his cleanup work a step further by partnering with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to raise awareness about the park and the resources it needs to thrive. 

After three years and quiet and diligent work, it’s time for the campaign to restore Shepherd Parkway to enter its next phase. It’s time for the “big ask.”
20140719_112632
We’ve mobilized over a thousand volunteers and removed hundred of thousands of pounds of trash from the woods. Now it’s time to ask our leaders in government to do their part for the park.

Click here to read and sign the Call to Action. After you have signed, be sure to tweet it and post it to your Facebook wall.

 

Celebrating Watershed Heroes

July 10th, 2013

[Note: This week we are joining author Jennifer Chambers, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Blue Water Baltimore, in a blog tour to celebrate watershed heroes and the launch of Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle]

During Scout the Water Bottle’s journey in Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle, written by the educator, Jennifer Chambers, he learns about all the ways in which litter negatively impacts our environment as well as how each individual can make a positive difference. With the mission to connect people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship, and advocacy, we at the Alice Ferguson Foundation hope to take the students, teachers, and community members we serve on a similar journey where awareness will lead to action to protect our environment.

TFS 3 We are able to serve the community through three core programs: Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, which provides outdoor-based experiences for appreciation,awareness, and lifelong stewardship of our natural environment for PreK – 8th grade students; the Bridging the Watershed program, which provides personally meaningful, educational experiences that connect high school students to their place in the natural world; and the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, which seeks to create a lasting reduction of litter in the Potomac Watershed.

photo 2Our Trash Free Schools Project bridges our three core programs as it works to educate and empower students, teachers, and staff to reduce their school’s waste footprint by providing education and resources. As part of the project, students and staff at K-12 schools are provided with the resources needed to investigate and take action on an environmental issue by implementing a strong waste reduction and litter prevention strategy. Get your school involved at trashfreepotomac.org.

We have recently revitalized the website, guidebook, and resource center for the Trash Free Schools Project to make sure that we can share the most up to date resources and opportunities with our schools. The Resource Center is designed to serve as the hub for perspective and enrolled schools to find activities, lesson plans, how-to guides, and other tools to help them organize, educate, and take action on trash. It allows us share curriculum plans to teachers while also providing them with service learning opportunities to complement them.

high resolution book coverAs we continue to look for useful resources and tools for our schools, we are always excited when we find a creative way to teach about the harmful nature of litter in our watershed. Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle fits the bill by painting the story of the journey of a water bottle from a Maryland storm drain to the Atlantic Ocean, through clever storytelling and compelling pictures. The book also provides tips to reduce plastic usage as well as other resources for students and teachers who are driven to action. We are happy to spread the word about this great resource and hope like Scout the Water Bottle, readers of this book will go on a journey of discovery and take action to preserve our watershed.

Everyone Appreciates Re-thinkers, Think Humanity

June 5th, 2013

By Everette Bradford, Community Outreach Liaison

TFS 3On Earth Day, April 22, 2013 more than 300 students at Forest Heights Elementary School took part in the 2nd Annual Potomac Cleanup and Earth day extravaganza. Students from Pre-k – 6th grade worked alongside each other to remove unsightly litter and debris from the school grounds and the local Oxon Run Creek. The day kicked off with students pledging to rethink. The school was covered in litter-prevention posters that highlighted the school’s motto and acronym for EARTH: Everyone Appreciates Re-thinkers, Think Humanity.

Mrs. Stephanie Jackson-Hinton serves as the school’s Green Team leader. She worked weeks prior to the event with the school’s Principal and faculty to schedule times for each class to come outside and participate. Each class had a one hour time slot to collect as many recyclables and litter as possible. The day was both educational and fun; students noted and discussed the harmful impacts of litter on Oxon Run Creek and their communities, and worked in teams competing in a school wide competition.

TFS1Before each class received their cleanup supplies, they were given safety instruction and quizzed and given safety instruction. Each class had to identify the types of materials that could be recycled or trashed. After the quizzing period, students were then tasked with breaking down into smaller teams. The teams consisted of those who would carry bags and those that would serve as the pickers. Students in Pre k- 2nd grade worked frantically to clean the schools play areas, including the front lawn, basketball courts, football field, playground, and jungle gym. They were even spotted taking a few minutes for early recess. Students in 3rd- 5th grade were tasked with cleaning the Oxon Run Creek and trail that runs behind the schools. The 6th graders ventured to the Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm to work alongside Park Rangers to complete water quality tests and litter pick-ups.

TFS2The older students were asked to sign additional permission slips and bring in extra clothing which allowed them to get into the water. The students worked to pull corroded materials from the creek bed. Students were eager to get into the creek because they were under the impression that the stream was dead and that conditions were so bad that no wildlife could inhabit the area. Students were amazed to see scores of tadpoles and even what appeared to be a large bass as the cleared the debris.

Students collected roughly 600lbs of trash including a tire, a motorcycle, three shopping carts, two vacuum cleaners, and a slew of other scrap metals and pvc piping. After students completed cleanup activities they enjoyed the clean school yard and held Trash Free picnic lunches. Future projects include gardening and planting and a Professional Development movie viewing of “Bag It” for faculty.

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

Ready For a Cleaner, Greener Anacostia River?

March 4th, 2013

Guest post by, Madeline Koenig, Membership and Volunteer Coordinator, Anacostia Watershed Society 

 

Are you ready for a cleaner, greener Anacostia River?

We are!  Here at the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS), we’ve been busy getting ready for our annual Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration.

AWS has been hosting an annual Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration in partnership with other local organizations like the Alice Ferguson Foundation and Seafarers Yacht Club for 24 years now!

While the event has taken a variety of forms throughout the years, the primary focus has always remained the same:  bringing the diverse communities of the Anacostia River watershed together; increasing awareness about the issue of trash pollution in our local communities; and taking action to remove as much trash and debris as possible from our streets and streams! 

From 9:00am – 2:00pm on April 20th we will be busy transforming the Anacostia River.

YOU can help!

More than 2,000 community members have joined us annually in past years for a variety of reasons.  Whether they need service learning hours, want to give back to their community, make the world a better place, or instill in their children a sense of love and stewardship for the natural environment, they all come to the Anacostia River to do it!   Of volunteering on the Anacostia, one DC resident says:

“I want to help the river heal.”

While there are more than 15 different cleanup sites to choose from this year, spots filling up quickly, so we encourage you to visit www.anacostiaws.org/earthday2013 and sign up to help the river heal TODAY!

See you on the 20th!

If you have questions about volunteering with the Anacostia Watershed Society as part of our annual Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration, please call or email Maddie Koenig at 301-699-6204 ext. 109 or [email protected].

Bridging Schools through Bridging the Watershed

November 20th, 2012

By Zoe Unruh, BTW Educator Specialist  

A few Fridays ago I had a field study with Marshall High School at the National Mall. Every year the International Baccalaureate mathematics teacher from Marshall uses the Bridging the Watershed Talkin’ Trash module to collect and analyze data in a fun and engaging way. In her class, she requires the students to conduct an independent research project, and collecting data on what trash exists on the Mall provides an example of an outer box project idea – even trash can be mathematical! Before data analysis, the Talkin’ Trash module requires the collection of that data, which means that students remove several pounds of trash from the National Park. Equipped with AFF’s bright yellow and blue Potomac River Watershed Cleanup bags, the students scour the shoreline for trash left behind by tides, storms, and recreation enthusiasts.

On this particular Friday, NPS Ranger Robert Steele and I met the students at Hains Point in East Potomac Park early enough that we were sharing the park only with some morning joggers, a few songbirds, and a single bald eagle. As the morning wore on, a large group began to set up at the nearby picnic pavilion, and some high school football players were moving picnic tables and preparing the field next to us for a multitude of field games. As soon as the Marshall students set out with their bags to collect their data, I walked over to our new neighbors to find out what was going on. As much as I love running mathematical analyses of trash collection, I’m a realist. I knew that I would not be able to compete with kickball, football, hot dogs, and a DJ in the fight for students’ attention. It turned out that Archbishop Carroll, a Catholic High School in the District, was in the midst of its annual walkathon, and the finish line just so happened to be right next to our study site.

As the smell of the barbecue became stronger, I started to curse my luck as a new educator. Why did I choose Hains Point as a study site on the ONE DAY when an entire high school would be there having a party? And then three students from Archbishop Carroll approached me. They were in charge of the service club at school, and were very interested in getting involved in trash removal. They had seen the Marshall students collecting trash with their brightly colored bags, and immediately knew what they were doing. I explained the program, and how their math teacher brought them to the Mall to run an experiment. One of the students exclaimed, “Wait, so you mean they’re here for math class? Why can’t my teacher do that!!” I suddenly felt extremely cool. These students were jealous of the Marshall students in the BTW program, even amidst the Top 40 tunes blaring from the speakers and the endless amounts of chips and soda pop! I gave the students information about the Alice Ferguson Foundation, highlighting the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup and urging them to get involved. Maybe they’ll host a site near their school in the spring. Or maybe they’ll mention BTW to their teachers. Either way, those bright yellow bags caught their attention and provided a link between the two seemingly separate events.

As BTW educators, we are always conducting field studies in public settings. How many other passersby have we impacted?