The River Flows to the Sea

Sad but Not Surprising

Two days after River Cleanup and the first bits of trash have already washed ashore.

It’s not  messy boaters and fishing folk who create all this litter, as some assume. The bulk of the trash is washed down from storm sewers all over the metro area. When you toss an empty package or bottle, even into a bin, odds are it can find it’s way to the river.

Before the Clean-Up

Washed into drains from all over DC, tennis balls are common enough on my beach for the dogs have learned to look for them.  I’m sure that boaters aren’t dumping buckets of balls overboard! But I am busy training my girls to fetch plastic bottles!

Good news about river trash!

Hundreds of volunteers showed up Saturday all up and down the Potomac watershed. I joined friends and neighbors at the National Colonial Farm across the river from historic Mount Vernon. We enjoyed the low tide and beautiful day that allowed us to clean miles of shoreline. Now hikers, fishing folk, blue herons, eagles and osprey can all enjoy the shoreline without trash. For a little while.

But I did notice some improvement while trash-picking Saturday morning ; there was much less foam trash than  in years past.  Alice Ferguson Foundation‘s Trash Free Potomac 2013 has taken a survey of common logos found in river trash and pressured the biggest offenders (this year McDonalds , Pepsi, Deer Park and Budweiser) to change their packaging to biodegradable materials, and it looks to me like this has helped!

The biggest scourge at the moment is plastic bags and bottles. Please make sure your plastics are properly recycled, and replace them when you can with reusable containers. All of us river dwellers thank you!

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