Litterbug Solution?

(see “litterbugs” post)

Today I took off on a 36 mile paddle. These trips give me plenty of time to think, and as I was paddling along, looking at the mounds of garbage everywhere and thinking about litterbugs, I kind of thought of a solution. There is a local race (put on by a river cleanup group) on the river that attracts about 50 mostly local people. I was thinking that during the race, it would be cool to also have a contest and awards for whoever brought back the most trash from the river during the race. It could help get more people thinking about keeping the river clean, act as a high speed mass-cleanup, and since the local TV stations cover the race on the evening news, it could be a good way to bring awareness to the problem from more of the community.

Has anyone ever done this during a race, or heard of it? I think it could be a good idea. Any tips on getting it done? I’m going to talk to the river group on Monday. Any of your advice, suggestions or general help will be appreciated.

"the most trash …"
Wouldn’t that just encourage people to throw in (“provide”) more trash?

Thats why I am asking…
I thought about that too. I can’t say for sure that anyone would be that messed up, but I never underestimate people.

Cacheing trash, pre-loading the river, etc, I could see it happening.

If everyone was honest about it though it could really be positive.

It might be a problem
tying it in with a race. It costs time to pick up stuff.

Perhaps it could work if a minute or two time reward were added to the racer’s time for each item retrieved? Still, that would encourage folks to stop only for the easily retrieved stuff - who’s going to go into a strainer or take the time to dig something out of the mud if it takes more time than they’re rewarded for it? What if it requires stopping and getting out of the boat to load up a pile of stuff? I’m not sure racing and clean-ups are compatible activities.

Might be better to just do a pre-race clean-up that is required for all race entrants or is offered as an option to receive an entry fee waiver? Take a big ole’ john boat along to load it all into and which could make runs to collection points at the landings?

I was thinking of going by lbs
where racers would be rewarded by weight hauled out.

For example, the tractor tire I saw buried in the mud would be HUGE. So would the old deck, or the unidentified car…

Just loading it into a canoe would be the tricky part.

I think capts.idea is …

– Last Updated: Jun-12-10 10:46 PM EST –

....... a good way to aid in an awareness campaign to show that regular community folk do care enough to take a responsibility for cleaning up others discarded litter trash in an effort to make life more pleasant for everyone .

I also think that bowrudder may have a realistic insight that some may puposefully increase their littering just to be arrogant towards the effort .

It is difficult to discern from a short term perspective , if the increase by the purposeful arrogant , would be greater than the hoped for decrease by reaching out to the community in that way . But I feel that the longer term perspective of the endevor capt. has proposed , has the greater possibility of growing/mushrooming into a positive decrease in littering for that community .

More so I feel that any good intentional effort to help make life more pleasant for the whole , is a worthy effort .

A definition of success can mean a goal may not have been accomplished , but that the effort to achieve that goal has not been aboandoned .

To not try , can be a definition of failure .

I specialize in highly visible plastic
trash, usually toys, on the metro Chattahoochee in Atlanta. Other trash washes in so fast, and washes downstream so fast, that I don’t usually mess with it. Just the really visible stuff. There’s a big dumpster at the take out.

caot. , perhaps the same …

– Last Updated: Jun-12-10 11:06 PM EST –

...... river cleanup group would entertain the suggestion of a seperate race at a seperate time , calling it something like "a community awareness effort race" ??

It could have a set period of time from beginning to end that all racers involved may use to gather litter , a timed race , just not the fastest wins .

How to judge the winners may be a bit more complicated . Weight may not be as viable as volumn ?? But I do think your idea would attract many contestants and local media may be find the coverage attractive also .

Just a few discarded containers are
held under the bungees as I cross the finish line of any race I participate in. It’s not an official part of the event, but rather just a personal commitment I’ve made to myself. My hope is that perhaps others do the same or might consider doing it. Just a few times many would start to make a difference in winning the battle with Litterbugs. Al

My experiences
find that races tend to create more trash than typical. Locally, a canoe race that has a beer drinking theme leaves the creek such a mess for weeks afterward. This race started out as a few friends making a personal wager and it has evolved into a day long drinking festival with sponsors and bands. When the race is over the creek is littered from one end to the other with beer cans, coozies, clothing, costume accessories and so on. Much of this is still present months later. The plus side is the business that is drummed up locally and the proceeds always go to a local cause. I was thinking about getting the organizers and the local Boy Scout troop together to do a clean up afterwards. They could throw a little cash to the troop and the scouts could work on badges.

Organize a Stream Team & dedicate your efforts to cleaning up a short (say 5 miles) section of a river that really needs some work.

Do the cleanup on a regular basis; could be monthly, bi monthly, or quarterly.

Continuously make an effort to get more/new people involved.

Take time to have some fun while you’re on the river.

All work/no play…no good.


We always pick it up
A group of us in Central Iowa canoe the Middle Raccoon River every weekend we can. Especially a stretch between Redfield and Pleasant Valley access. We always pick up any trash we see. In addition to the regular trash we have picked up more than 100 tires on that stretch.

A few years ago Iowa’s DNR sponsored a cleanup on the Raccoon. They noticed that there was hardly any trash to pick up between Redfield and Pleasant Valley.

Pick up all the trash you can. I does make a difference.

A few things that worked for us
We have had great success during our SC Beach/River Sweep in 2009 with the help of a local boy scout camp that allows us to let volunteers camp for free on Friday & Saturday nights during our clean up. We feed our volunteers lunch & dinner on Saturday. We had 250 volunteers last year. Friends of Berkeley Blueways on facebook has a meet up/clean up where we take paddlers on guided trips in our area & we clean a landing, beach, or an island on our lakes after a few hours of cleaning.

Archie Thompson

Berkeley Blueways Volunteer

Moncks Corner, SC

Several years ago in the Chatahoochee
race in Atlanta.

There was a guy that entered a kayak that was entirely built from plastic soda bottles that he had picked up from several weeks before the race while paddling the river.

For a paddle believe it or not he had crutches, (from the river)

For a seat he had a toilet seat, (from the river)

They gave him a special award.

Last month during the two day French Broad River Classique in Asheville, they jockingly announced that any one that picked up a basketball(s) on the way down river would get a automatic 5 seconds taken off their time.

I saw one, but we were all ready past it when it dawned on me that I should have tried to get it.

My thoughts on river and road littering have been the same for many years now, and that is, you are not going to stop the adult slobs that are doing it, but if the kids were taught and reminded at least once a week in the first second and third grades that when they see any one including mommy or daddy discarding any thing on a road or in a river, it is wrong and they should not do it.

jack L

hmmn… are you talking about the
Great Valley Ya Gotta Regatta event ?..

If so, that fund raiser has gotten way too big!!!

Many of the landowners along the water didn’t mind when it was only a few hundred, but now that is close to 2000 registered drunken boaters they are having a problem with it. Too much trash left behind, that’s for sure!!!

I don’t understand why that fire department (the organizers) doesn’t hire a few people to clean it up the next day - they make more than enough money off of it, that’s for sure!

It’s a disgrace what happens to that stretch of water. It is a mess for weeks afterwards. The beer cans generally get picked up, but everything else remains…

I can’t believe they haven’t had any major problems the last couple years… Beer stops with kegs (5 of them) and water sports just don’t seem to mix, add in the fact that these people aren’t paddlers, just partiers doing something different… it just seems like a recipe for disaster!!!

And the way those poor boats get tossed around at the end, thrown into a semi trailer, and tossed out in a heap at the mudpit, err… campground… it makes me shudder to think of it!!!

Fishermen from littering would be the hardest. I’ll never understand why people will go out of their way to enjoy a river, but not think twice about leaving their cans, styrofoam bait buckets and coolers, and all sorts of trash right where they fished. I guess it’s because fishing appeals to a broad spectrum of society, and while many are educated, responsible people, a good percentage are under-educated, with no interest in conservation. As another poster mentioned, you won’t affect the values of those people, and I doubt even their offspring will value conservation much given their upbringing.

One of the local colleges has an outdoors club that comes up and does a cleanup twice a season. You may be able to get one near you to do the same. The livery I run gives the group a great rate on the rental boats for the cleanup. Also, the local paddlers group does a cleanup in the spring. We provide the shuttle. The stretch of river we operate on is the cleanest on the entire river because of it.

Other than that, I would suggest you get a small group and select a mile or so that you all concentrate on.

Its not fishermen
that produce so much litter. Its drunks.

I don’t recall ever seeing trash heaps along the river that contained no alcohol containers. Has anyone here ever seen fishing trash, or a trashy camp site of any kind, without beer cans or liquor bottles? Alcohol consumption always always always goes hand in hand with litter. I think they are usually relatively few in number at any given time, but they do a LOT of damage as far as litter is concerned.

I know there are many who can drink without littering, but I’m not sure there are so many who can litter without drinking.

I’m not convinced that drunken regatta “paddlers”, or “racers”, tubers, or whatever, are any different in their littering habits than drunken fishermen. If they’re there to primarily to drink, to party, you can expect to see litter the next day. And I’m no prohibitionist - but anywhere and anytime that drink ceases to be a refreshing beverage and becomes the primary reason for being there, expect the litter to pile up. In town, at home, in a city park, on the river; doesn’t matter.

I’m of the opinion that promoting that sort of behavior on a river as a “fund-raiser”, for profit, or any other reason is marginally unethical unless a clean-up is part of the undertaking from the start. Some people will think me opinionated for saying that. In this case they’re right.

It looks to me like many people who still-fish might drink more, and so litter more, since there isn’t much else to do otherwise in that, um, sport. Often I suspect that this kind of fishing is just an excuse to get out of the house and go drink with friends.

Personally, I wouldn’t have any problem at all with that if they could just bring themselves to sleep it off right there on the bank and pick up in the morning. But I suspect mosquitoes, junk food cravings, and running out of beer often prohibits that. I further suspect that standing up is challenge enough for them after such an evening of “fishing.” A journey home without fatalities or property damage is the best that can be hoped for from folks in that condition. I’ll gladly pick up their cans and put them in my canoe if I don’t have to share the road with them while they’re on the way home.

I don’t think education matters much. A well-educated drunk is no different that an uneducated one as far as litter is concerned, though the former might make a more entertaining conversationalist for a while. It doesn’t matter what they’re taught in school or at home or anywhere else. Its a matter of just not caring at the time.

When I see tires, or 55 gal. drums, lumber, etc. I suspect that I’m looking at stuff that had been stored somewhere on a flood plain. I figure that whoever stored it thought it was above any possible flood level, and they were wrong. That’s a mistake, but not littering. I can understand that. Its still an eyesore and a pain to clean up, but I can understand how a person could make that mistake. I expect to see trash near a town. Shopping carts, plastic bags, all sorts of junk can get away from people who may not even know there’s a river or creek anywhere around. If there are a lot of people there will be a lot of trash. Floods wash it down.

We notice because we’re on the water a lot and are going slow enough to see it. If it bothers us, as it should, it behooves us to pick it up. It needn’t be a burdensome chore. If the boat’s full or there’s a good reason not to stop, paddle past and get it next time.

I don’t know if there’s any way to make it a racing event… though maybe someone will find a way. If they do I’m all for it.

Otherwise “stream keepers” type clean-ups work, especially for the heavy stuff, and supporting them at least occasionally isn’t a bad idea at all. Even if we don’t “win” (keep our waterways perfectly free of litter), its better to get a black eye fighting on the side of the angels than win fighting on the side of the demons.

requires a deposit on all beverage containers. You don’t see them in the streams. Styrofoam should be outlawed for disposable containers of any kind. I’m not a big fan of new regulations, but where rivers are concerned, nothing else works. Too many poor stock people of all persuasions.

It’s not just drunks
It’s slobs and red necks and the ignorant.

just happens that the drunks fall into that catagory

jack L