On September 15, I led my first stream cleanup with Rock Creek Conservancy, and it was not a typical cleanup. We participated in the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup and had to record every item that we put into our trash bags. The Ocean Conservancy is compiling data on all trash collected from all the cleanup sites worldwide, including Rock Creek, and will publish a report of the most common trash found.
As 10:00 approached, volunteers trickled in, and the cleanup process began. Once everyone had signed in and been outfitted with their gloves, trash bags, and data cards, we split up into two groups and started our cleanup trek. My group followed the creek and immediately set to work collecting a lot of pedestrian trash discarded on the paved path. Some ambitious volunteers decided to scramble down the bank of the creek and collect trash that had been caught in the drift wood. Not only was this where the entire group ended up, but this area was where we found the most trash.
After our trash scavenger hunt along the creek, we headed back to the fork in the trail where we met the other group. You could tell by the look on people’s faces, they felt accomplished and seemed to be really enjoying participating in such a great cause. And one of our volunteers even found a $5 dollar bill in the creek; if that isn’t karma, I don’t know what is.
We then dumped our bags and analyzed the trash we collected. With the 18 volunteers that participated in the clean up, we managed to remove 11 bags of trash and many obscure items that would not fit in trash bags, such as a 9-ft plumbers wire, a bumper, several hub caps, a plastic street light cover, and an umbrella.
The event went wonderfully! We were glad to do our part to keep trash from reaching the ocean, make a noticeable impact in the area, and have fun while doing it.
Karen Zeiter, Chesapeake Conservation Corps Volunteer