Activity Blog 2: River Cleanup

Last Sunday, I went to Old Mill Park along the Rappahannock River to pick up trash through Circle K’s river cleanup.  After an hour, we had a two big trash bags full- one of recycling and one of trash.  Among the trash we picked up, I noticed the two biggest types seemed to be plastic bags and aluminum drink cans.  Both of these have numerous environmental effects.  According to the Environmental Literacy Council, “Stray plastic bags, which have been estimated at one to three percent of the hundreds of billions that are produced each year, are now found almost everywhere on the planet.”  Plastic bags are dangerous to marine life animals as they can mistake them for food and ingest them, which causes stomach blockages and eventual starvation.  Plastic bags have also been known to clog pipes and drains, which leads to backed up water that can cause health problems.  Unfortunately, this excess of bags is not going anywhere anytime soon as scientists estimate it takes at least 400 years for them to biodegrade.  They can be recycled, and you can help by clicking here to find a drop off location in your area.

Aluminum cans are recyclable; however, more often than not they aren’t recycled.  According to International Rivers, “More than half of the 99 billion cans sold in the U.S. last year were landfilled or incinerated….A similar amount wasn’t recycled in other countries, for a global total of about 1.5 million tons of wasted cans.”  This causes companies to have to manufacture more cans, which causes environmental pollution.  Remember to recycle and together we can keep our rivers from looking like this.



6 Responses to “Activity Blog 2: River Cleanup”

  1. ldaly07 says:

    I really like the second picture you included, it really puts it in perspective how bad the situation really is. I know most people think it is a pain in the butt, but i really like the new policy that some stores have where if you want a bag you have to pay a little bit extra.

  2. desi says:

    I remember years ago I would take in aluminum cans to the grocery store with my grandparents in NY. It is unfortunate that (at least from the stores I know of), that VA does not accept cans back in the same way. Thankfully the garbage/recycling program that my family belongs to gives back to the people who recycle. It is possible, through this program to get back giftcards after you have recycled a designated number of pounds. This program makes recycling more viable for people as people are always looking to get something for free.

  3. Amber says:

    Way to go with the river clean up 🙂 this was a very encouraging post. It is important for EVERYONE to do their part, just as you said.

  4. Dr. Szulczewski says:

    What’s amazing is how easy and efficient is to recycle aluminum- it’s actually a big money maker. Thanks for making this effort!

  5. Robbie O'Donnell says:

    I notice the same thing whenever I go down to the river and it amazes me that it never seems to let up. It seems like no matter how hard you try the waste just keeps coming down stream.

  6. Julie says:

    This post reminded me of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that exists in the Pacific Ocean. Stretching for hundreds of miles, this gargage patch is comprised of, well, garbage (any and all you can think of). Some of the most hazardous material includes small, almost microscopic, pieces of plastic that are photodegrading (because of the sun) and are being ingested by marine wildlife, causing suffocation and eventual death. I think places like Fredericksburg (the Rappahannock River) and other waterways should host river cleannup days more often. I think it can be a really eye-opening experience for people who are unaware of just how much trash we are producing and disposing of in our environment.