Sweep the Creek Fall 2010

Our Fall Sweep the Creek: As Good as Ever and New and Improved!

We have much to be proud of! On Saturday and Sunday, September 25-26, 300 volunteers gathered at 10 sites along our Sligo Creek to pick up trash and remove invasive plants during our ninth annual fall “Sweep the Creek”. While this community effort is once again worth celebrating, it is also worth noting that many of our volunteers reported that the creek seems to be staying cleaner between sweeps. We know that many of you are picking up trash during your daily or weekly walks, and it is paying off. Thank you for your steady and dedicated contributions to the well being of this precious natural resource.

Our Sweep was linked again this fall to National Public Lands Day, a nation-wide effort to improve and restore public lands that involved about 160,000 volunteers across the United States. We were happy to have as group volunteers the Youth Group of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and Montgomery College and Blair High School students working under AmeriCorps VISTA programs. Creek Section Eight’s work was featured in the “Wheaton Patch”.

We were also happy to pilot a new effort in Creek Sections 3 and 4 in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. The Coastal Cleanup is in its 25th year and is an annual international event with goals to remove trash and debris from the world’s beaches and waterways, identify the sources of that debris, and change the behaviors that allow trash to reach the ocean in the first place. Because trash travels to the ocean by way of storm drains and waterways, the Coastal Cleanup doesn’t include only ocean beaches. It also includes lakes, streams, and rivers—including our Sligo Creek!

As part of our pilot, we quantified the types of debris found and weighed the total amount of trash. In both of sections 3 and 4 plastic bags were the number one item, making up 29% (466 bags) and 18% (325 bags) of items found, respectively. The second most plentiful item found in both sections was food wrappers and containers. FOSC will report this information to the Ocean Conservancy, and also use the findings regarding plastic bags to advocate for a bag bill in the Maryland State Legislature and provide a base line for comparison once such a bill is passed.

Many thanks to MaryLee Haughwout for spearheading this pilot! These graphs, Top Ten Debris Categories in Section 3 and Top Ten Debris Categories in Section 4, show the pilot findings in more detail. Please look them over and let us know what you think. We welcome your insights about how to leverage this partnership with the Ocean Conservancy.

As a final note, we found 3 credit cards in section 4, which we turned over to Park Police for anyone who may be missing their plastic! Other interesting and/or ironic finds included:

  • 20+ foot-long construction fence
  • golf trophy from 1972
  • two trash can lids and a recycling bin
  • 1.5 man hole covers
  • pile of pipes, wood, rake, shovel and tomato cages
  • mattress
  • road sign
  • a perfectly good aluminum bat
  • the remains of a child’s wagon
  • tire rim
  • exercise trampoline
  • graphing calculator
  • skateboard
  • Patton Stephens
  • Sweep Sligo Creek Coordinator and Litter Committee Chair