Cracked lawn chairs, plastic straws, deflated basketballs, old tires, shredded Styrofoam, and so many other odds and ends litter the banks of the Ohio River. What is one person’s trash, is (in our case) another person’s treasure to pick up!
This October, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Family Community Service Program partnered with Living Lands and Waters (LL&W) to scour the shores of the Ohio River for debris and trash. Splitting the cleanup endeavors over two days, the amount of full trash bags was mountainous. On October 3, our team collected 3,306 pounds of trash. And on October 8, our team collected 2,437 pounds of trash.
That’s a total of 5,743 pounds of trash! Almost all of that garbage will be recycled or sustainably disposed of by LL&W.
LL&W is an incredible organization, headquartered in East Moline, Illinois. The crew travels by barge from city to city hosting river cleanups and other environmental education events. Since 1998, LL&W has worked on 24 rivers in 21 states with the help of more than 100,000 volunteers to remove almost 10 million pounds of debris from the U.S. waterways!
The Ohio River basin (the area of land that drains into the Ohio River at any point) spans 15 states and supports more than 27 million people, or 10% of the U.S. population, with drinking water, jobs, and recreational opportunities, according to the Ohio Environmental Council. And, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it’s one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S.
So, what can you do to help keep the Ohio River clean?
- Volunteer! Join our Family Community Service program or another local environmental-based organization that hosts river cleanups, create your own group to go out and pick up litter, or join an event with LL&W when they are in town.
- Don’t litter! Being mindful about how you dispose of your waste can really keep our lands and waters clean. Recycle when you can and don’t toss trash out your car door window.
- Use reusable straws and utensils! It’s staggering how many plastic straws end up in our waterways. By simply incorporating reusable straws and bamboo utensils that can be washed instead of thrown into the garbage, it’s good for the environment and your wallet.
“All you need to do is change your world. That’s how the world changes.” -Chad Pregracke, Founder of Living Lands & Waters