by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, May 2018) On Saturday, April 21, over 1,000 volunteers met up at 35 locations in Cuyahoga County to pick up litter as part of the Great Cleveland Clean-up. The Litterbugz, a nonprofit organization dedicated to litter clean-up and prevention, organized the event.
On the Near West Side of Cleveland, police officers from the Second District Community Service Unit, volunteers from the Cleveland Police Foundation and members of the Young Latino Network were among the volunteers that joined in the effort to pick up litter.
The Litterbugz Executive Director Jeff Schlekie says each year on the Saturday closest to Earth Day, The Litterbugz organize a countywide clean-up. The goal of The Litterbugz is to be able to clean-up the litter in the entire county in one day by the year 2020.
Schlekie addressing a group of volunteers at Trent Park, on Trent Avenue between W. 41stand Fulton, asked “How would you feel if Cleveland was the cleanest city in the United States?”
Schlekle urged volunteers to mark their calendars for next year’s clean-up on April 20, 2019. Schlekle said if each one of us brings 2 or 3 people we would be able to clean-up all the liter in Cleveland in one day.
Schlekle estimated it would take about 3,000 volunteers to clean-up all the neighborhoods in Cuyahoga County in one day. Schlekle said the estimate is for groups of 5 people cleaning a five-block area.
The volunteers at Trent Park gathered over 30 bags of trash during the roughly, three-hour clean up – roaming the streets around the park to pick up trash.
One of the crews at the Trent Park location consisted of police officers from the Second District Community Service Unit. Volunteers from the Cleveland Police Foundation also were there to help with the clean-up.
Mel Reyes, a volunteer from the Cleveland Police Foundation, reached out to area businesses to secure donations of food and drinks for The Litterbugz volunteers helping with the clean-up. Joe De’s Pizzeria on Fulton donated about 20 pizzas for the clean-up crews. The Family Market at W. 38thand Newark donated snacks and beverages, and Q’s Gas & Go at W. 44thand Clark donated soft drinks.
Each Litterbugz volunteer received a “I HATE TRASH” t-shirt. They were also equipped with rubber gloves and trash bags before being sent out in small groups. According to The Litterbugz website, much of the trash collected is recycled with volunteers sorting trash into aluminum, plastic and non-recyclable trash.
Following the clean-up, Schlekle talked to volunteers about the impact of trash on the environment and on the human psyche. He claimed that a trash free world would be a less aggressive place.
The Litterbugz’s website notes that “People can prevent and reverse the effects of litter. Research and studies have proven that litter is the result of individual behavior. People choose to litter and are careless in the handling of waste. Once litter is on the ground, it attracts even more litter. A clean community, by contrast, can discourage littering and improve community appearance and quality of life.”
The Litterbugz’s Website says the two main reasons people litter are: “inadequate disposal containers and trash cans, and being careless of their surrounding environment.” According to the website, The Litterbugz plans to work to increase “recycling awareness” and to urge citizens to “care about the surrounding environment.” Litterbugz hopes in the future to be able to provide “trash and cigarette butt disposals, while educating the youth, to try and eliminate the act of littering entirely!”
For more information about Litterbugz visit their website at: www.TheLitterbugz.orgor call 440-829-4703. The Litterbugz volunteers and staff are eager to talk to groups about how they can get involved in tackling trash in Cuyahoga County.