By Albert Arevalo, Community Outreach Liaison
Before we rang in the New Year, I made my last 2013 visit to one of the communities I will be working in, Hechinger Mall. As the Community Outreach Liaison for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, my mission is to learn how the level of litter is impacting the residents, and how our Litter Prevention Campaign can help restore the quality of life in the communities in the District of Colombia.
As I drove through the Hechinger Mall community, I noticed that the holiday season had an effect on trash collection. Trash services had been altered, so bins, streets, and parks were over flowing with litter. Surprisingly it wasn’t the litter that caught my eye, but the random trash bags nailed on trees that peaked my interest. After some investigating I realized to my surprise that these bags were in several streets in NE DC.
These bags were hung by Ms. Dawson, a resident of the Carver Langston community who is taking the initiative to help combat the prevalent litter plaguing her community. I was fortunate enough to meet Ms. Dawson as I investigated the source of the hanging bags, and she explained how she arms herself with a small grocery bag and bright yellow dishwashing gloves weekly and takes to the streets to pick up as much trash as she can fit in her bag. As I admired her perseverance, we discussed the work AFF is wishing to accomplish in her community and she was ecstatic to hear about our Litter Prevention Campaign.
To further her efforts in cleaning up the community, I gave Ms. Dawson the Holiday Trash Kit, which included: litter prevention posters, stickers, a reusable tote bag, recycling and trash bags, and a new pair of gloves. Along with the kit, we have both gained a new partner in each other because right then and there we decided to combine forces, and change littering behavior in her community.
I have high hopes for 2014, and I look forward to meeting other community members who, like Ms. Dawson, are fighting the good fight and are ready to eliminate trash in their community.