Volunteers Bag Four Tons of Trash in Two Hours in Columbia, Mo.
More than 650 volunteers turned out in Columbia, Missouri, on Saturday, October 8, for the Eighth Annual Hinkson Clean Sweep.
"That's 150 more than last year," says Scott Dye, national director of the Sierra Club's Water Sentinels Program. The Missouri Sierra Club's Osage Group co-sponsors the city-wide cleanup event each year.
Volunteers convened at 10 a.m. at eight different locations along Hinkson Creek, where they received red trash bags and mesh bags. This year cleanups stretched beyond the creek itself, with many volunteers collecting trash and litter from downtown Columbia. A recent lack of rain meant trash hadn't run off into local creeks, allowing it to collect on city streets.
"We're very gratified to see this annual cleanup event grow over the years to include city, county, and state partners," says Dye. "It's a testament to the value of building local partnerships, and to the civic pride of my fellow Columbians."
City of Columbia Stormwater Educator Mike Heimos estimates that 8,000 pounds of trash was collected during the 2-hour cleanup. Heimos participated in the cleanup of the Grindstone Nature Area, where nearly 700 pounds of trash was picked up.
"The Hinkson Clean Sweep drags the tires, toilets, shopping carts and even the occasional wheelchair out of Columbia's streams," says Dye. In fact, a wheelchair belonging to the Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital was found in a wooded area and returned to the hospital by women from Alpha Phi House at William Woods University in Fulton, Mo., 60 miles from Columbia. That's the Alpha Phi group, below.
"Kids hear a lot about recycling at school and they see it there, but they don't really see it like this," Becca Rackley, faculty advisor at West Junior High School, told the Columbia Daily Tribune. "The first year we came here the kids were shocked. When they get out and see this it makes them more aware, so they will be more concerned when they become adults."
Lisa Rohmiller of Columbia Volunteer Programs urged residents to do informal cleanups whenever they can, not just when there's a large organized event. "The city provides all the supplies needed for such activities," she told the Columbia Missourian. "People can form their own groups and venture out to clean up any time of the year."
Couples, families, students, school groups, church groups, college fraternities, civic and professional groups, science clubs, girl scout troops and individuals all participate, and handicapped-accessible locations are available for people whose mobility is compromised.
In addition to the Osage Sierra Club, sponsors include the City of Columbia, Boone County, state agencies, the University of Missouri, and local businesses.
"This is the perfect down-and-dirty Fall compliment to the city's 2,000-plus-volunteer Spring Cleanup Columbia event, that focuses on our parks, trails and streets," says Dye. "Working together, we're keeping it clean in Ol' Mizzou."
All photos by Lisa Rohmiller, Columbia Volunteer Programs.