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Neighborhood Clean Up

The 10 Minute Clean Up Challenge is gaining momentum! Many residents are stepping up to take care of our neighborhood. Below is a great email from one of those residents, Jerry VanderWeir, 3300 block of California.

“Weekly I pick up garbage for 1-12 hours around West Benton Park; collecting an average of 150+ gallons. Most commonly I work the six-block area between Cherokee, California, Wyoming; and Ohio. I do it for my health and to meet my commitment to improving the community.

You might be interested in what I have found makes up most of the trash in our area – by % of items picked-up in highest to lowest order:

  • Drink cups, lids, straw's, and plastic bottles 40-60%

  • Candy Wrappers and Chip Bags 14-35%

  • Smoking products 11-20% (e.g. cigarettes/boxes/cellophane; Swisher Sweets wrappers, plastic cigar butts)

  • Napkins, receipts, and loose paper 8-20%

  • Food containers/wrappers, utensils, and related condiments 3-10%

  • from local restaurants and grocery 3+%

  • from gas stations 1+%

  • from fast food chains (e.g. McDonalds, White Castle, Pizza Hut) <1%

  • Beer/liquor cans and bottles 1-4%

  • Other 3-10% (e.g. plastic bags, food, toys, soda cans, used diapers, money, Q-tips, electronics, cardboard, dental floss …)

Other loose observations from the last 18 months include:

  • Most of the garbage is consistently deposited/collects at just a few residential properties

  • Most of the garbage washes away after moderate or stronger rains – assuming down MSD storm drains

  • Much of the garbage dumped just outside dumpsters don't appear to be coming from nearby residents

  • Garbage rarely blows far from where it was originally deposited – most doesn't blow at all

  • Top areas where garbage is deposited

  • Oregon between Utah and Wyoming and on adjoining cross streets

  • Gravois on the south / West Benton Park side

  • Where California and Arsenal intersect

  • Cherokee – particularly between Nebraska and Jefferson and surrounding the grocery stores

Keeping our neighborhood clean is not only an economic boost and visually appealing, it also reduces many detrimental impacts. Like one should keep their teeth brushed and bodies washed, keeping clean streets and yards is healthy and wise. It reduces damage to cars and tires from street debris, reduces health concerns from roaches/rats that feed/live in trash, reduces toxic substances from batteries, oil, and the like that poison us and our pets; reduces injuries/deaths to animals from ingested or entrapping garbage; and more.

Despite paid and volunteer cleaning efforts, the pollution is constant and is coming from almost everyone who visits or lives in our area. It will take all of us to make a lasting change. Even if one doesn't feel comfortable or have time to pick up, one can make a difference by reminding others – particularly children – to be responsible, or just shouting out a thank you to those they see using a garbage can or picking up trash. We need many more to be responsible, take pride, and make a difference. Set an example. Encourage others. Just help. The difference benefits all.

Side notes:

  • While I haven't done a scientific study to get these percentages, I'm pretty sure they're close – on average. The percentages vary depending on if it just rained, or if school is out for the summer, or snow is on the ground, if it is a weekend / special event / holiday, or if the street sweeper or lawn mower just came by. It also varies quite a bit in areas where there are a few folks like me regularly picking up (e.g. Cherokee street) versus an area that is rarely picked up as some items, like aluminum foil and plastic bags, can remain visible for months while other items quickly degrade or wash down the sewer in the rain.

  • Also note that these percentages are very different than what is found in other parts of the country; same for total volume. In much of Florida, for example, alcohol products are typically the number one item (40-50+% of the total), and tobacco items typically exceed 70% of the total around Seattle. I suspect a close analysis could say much about the local culture and economics.”

A BIG Thanks to Jerry for his dedicated work and compiling this information.

Feel INSPIRED? Consider adopting your block for the 10 Minute Litter Challenge. There are opportunities that pop up during the year such as alley cleans and this Saturday's work in Gravois Park.

Gravois Park Clean Up

Saturday, August 1 from 9:00-12:00 pm, Gravois Park, 3200 Potomac

Volunteers are needed to help weed, mulch, and pick up litter. Donuts and bottled water will be provided. Please bring gloves and your own tools. Facebook Invite

Photo: Google Map's Street view of the 3300 Block of California Ave

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