New Online Volunteer Network Aims to Address Pervasive Trash Problem in the Potomac Region


September 6, 2012

(Washington, DC) The Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF), with support from REI, has launched the Trash Free Potomac Network, which provides an online community that connects volunteers, organizations, businesses and governments in order to address the pervasive trash problem in the Potomac region. This easy-to-use, online clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities is designed to transform the way in which groups identify and engage with activities that build toward a trash-free future.

“The Trash Free Potomac Network will be an important part of the solution to creating a lasting reduction of litter in the watershed,” explained Lori Arguelles, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. “The trash problem is solvable, but in order to do so everyone needs to take a proactive stewardship role in the health of the Potomac watershed. This online network will help make that happen.”

Trash Free Potomac Network features information about local cleanups, workshops, and trash monitoring opportunities. Users of the network are able to find events to participate, share their own, and view data collected from past events. The easily shared information will build on the Trash Initiative’s work by further raising public awareness and changing behaviors around trash as well as be used to promote long-term solutions to the trash problem.

“Over the years, we have engaged residents in the Potomac Watershed through our Annual Watershed Cleanup and Annual Trash Summit,” explained Laura Chamberlin, Program Manager for AFF’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. “These catalyst events for the Trash Initiative build momentum toward solutions to the trash issue and we wanted to make sure that stakeholders and volunteers have a place to continue the positive momentum throughout the year.”

The first cleanup to be featured on the new network will take place on September 15 from 9am to noon at Algonquin Regional Park in Sterling, VA and is the first of many that will be highlighted on the Trash Free Potomac Network site:
The Trash Free Potomac Network was created to further engage residents in proactive stewardship and was made possible by the generous support and partnership of REI. “REI’s core purpose is to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship,” explained Matt Liddle, REI Outdoor Programs and Outreach Mid-Atlantic Manager. “As part of that commitment, REI partners with local nonprofits with a similar mission to preserve natural spaces through volunteerism. The Trash Free Potomac Network is a forward thinking project, and REI is enthusiastic to work with Alice Ferguson Foundation to help ensure these outdoor places are available for future generations.”

As demonstrated by the 262 tons of trash removed from the Potomac Watershed during this past April’s Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, the region continues to have an enormous trash problem. Through the sharing of litter prevention events in the region, the Trash Free Potomac Network builds on the efforts of the Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, which seeks to create a lasting reduction of litter and waste in the Potomac Watershed through public education, enforcement, market incentives and strong policy and regulatory efforts.


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 creating the next generation of environmental stewards, 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.

REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. We offer our own line of high-quality award-winning gear and apparel, in addition to products from the top brands for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, paddling, snow sports and travel. We are passionate about the outdoors and committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.

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