COLUMBIA — Broken glass bottles, empty cardboard boxes and the remains of a toilet paper prank greeted Columbia Crawdads Stream Team volunteers at 8 a.m. Saturday as they cleaned up East Campus trash.
As large numbers of college students move in and out of the area this time of year, trash left on yards and sidewalks makes its way into storm drains that flow directly into Hinkson Creek.
College students, neighborhood residents and other volunteers made up about 15 people who dedicated their Saturday morning to making a difference.
John Mier, 57, hopes to be an example for people unaware of the amount of trash that eventually makes its way into streams if not properly disposed.
“Everything leads to the water,” Mier said. Cigarette butts, plastic bottles, cans and other trash that reach storm drains will end up in the area's waterways.*
Along with other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dionthé Hingson, 22, saw the Stream Team cleanup as an opportunity to serve others outside of the church.
“It’s not enough not to be doing bad things, but to do good things,” Hingson said.
Mier said the Stream Team threw about 82 bags of trash into two large Dumpsters provided by the Office of Neighborhood Services and the East Campus neighborhood. The Dumpsters were placed at the corner of University Avenue and South William Street on Aug. 1 and will stay through Wednesday.
Volunteer leader Carly Love said the Dumpsters have already been emptied three times and that recycling is not an option as most of what is collected is not salvageable.
"We used to recycle, but it's so dirty for the plant to clean," she said.
Love hopes more people will become aware of what they can do to help prevent trash from polluting the streams. The Stream Team holds monthly cleanups in various locations to raise awareness.
In addition to the Stream Team's effort to keep trash out of storm drains, local artists have volunteered their time for the Storm Drain Art project. Nine artists will paint educational messages around seven drains to make them more noticeable to area residents as part of the annual Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ event in September.
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