Volunteers Haul Tons of Trash From City Waterway
This fall, the Sierra Club teamed up with the City of Columbia, Missouri, and other local groups* to co-sponsor the fifth annual Hinkson Clean Sweep. In two hours, volunteers hauled a record 4,000 pounds of garbage, 200 pounds of recyclables, and 15 tires from the waterway, an arterial of the Missouri River.
"This is the biggest haul and the biggest number of volunteers we've had," says Sierra Club Water Sentinels Director Scott Dye. "The first year attracted fewer than 50 people—this year we had 230. It's a gritty event where we get down and dirty, muck around, and wade chest-deep in the water at five locations along the creek."
This year's Clean Sweep netted a greater haul than Dye anticipated. "I was worried the heavy summer rains might have carried most of the garbage downstream to the Missouri." Plastic is especially problematic, as it never biodegrades, and breaks up in the ocean into pieces the size of krill, a vital food source for marine mammals and seabirds. Cigarette butts are another culprit, taking up to 15 years to biodegrade.
The Hinkson Clean Sweep complements the spring Cleanup Columbia event, now in its 11th year, which regularly draws between 1,000 and 2,000 people. "When it draws 2,000 volunteers, that's one out of every 50 Columbians coming out the same day to clean up our streets, trails, parks, and roadsides," Dye enthuses. "In a way it's a shame that we have to do this, but it's great to see so many people turn out."
Photos by Leigh Claire, courtesy of the City of Columbia.
* Other sponsors of this year's Clean Sweep include Boone County Public Works, Missouri Stream Team Program, Columbians United for Hinkson Creek Stream Team, and CARP (Columbia Aquatic Restoration Project), with the support of AmeriCorps, Hinkson Creek Valley Neighborhood Association, Sierra Club Osage Group, Wal-Mart and Best Buy. Learn more about the Missouri Water Sentinels.