Residents Collect Over 400 Pounds of Litter During Hudson Plog Week

Our first plog of 2021 was planned for a full week surrounding Earth Day (April 22). We planned a kickoff plog for Sunday April 18 from 12:00-2:00pm.

We were pleased to again have Vertical Runner support us and act as a “home base” for the kickoff event, and as a pickup location for registrant materials. Vince Rucci and his team were again integral in helping this event succeed.

Additional sponsors included:

Open Door Coffee Company who provided free drink coupons to all participants

Vertical Runner who donated a $50 gift card

The Learned Owl who donated a $30 gift card

Radhaus who donated a $25 gift card

About350 Creative who donated graphic design services for the event and a Goal Zero Solar Crush Light as a giveaway

Hudson Honey Co. who donated 3, 8oz honeys

– GoGreenGo.org who donated stickers and litter buckets

Paragram who donated bucket labels

Splott Graphics who donated 2 “Cleanup Ahead” yard signs

 

Trouble Spots & Format

This plog was planned in a “open house” style where participants could come and go as they pleased during the initial kickoff plog and throughout the week, while choosing a distance to their liking, and location that was convenient for them. The feedback from this format was very positive, as people appreciated the flexibility.

We outlined a variety of locations as areas where litter had been observed in the days leading up to the event

 

Results

For the kickoff plog, the weather was cool but started out sunny and in the 50s. Rain began approximately 1:15 but did not seem to effect the final outcome for the day. A total of 62 people, many of whom were families with members of various ages, participated.

During the remainder of the week 10 additional people signed up, while many of the kickoff ploggers picked up litter multiple times throughout the week.

 

All ploggers collected a total of 12 large 50 gallon bags, plus 48 small bags or 5 gallon buckets worth of litter. Our 72 ploggers accounted for 101 man-hours of donated work. Estimated weight for collect litter was 468 pounds.

 

Items picked up were as expected, however the high amount of face masks was unexpected.

– both cloth and disposable masks

– recyclable plastic, glass and metal cans and bottles

– thousands of cigarette butts

– candy/food wrappers/bags, mostly bits

– plastic bags

– misc plastic jugs/containers

– pieces of fast food cups/lids/straws/containers

– misc plastic food containers

The areas we expected to be trouble spots did prove to be such. Parking lots, and roads with heavier traffic are typical locations that need routine attention. That was again reinforced during this week.

 

Recurring Issues

Two issues that have popped up over and over again during our plogs are cigarette litter and irresponsible commercial landscaping services that mow over litter instead of picking it up.

We have made several public comments to the Hudson Environmental Awareness Committee about cigarette butt litter, and requested the use of receptacles throughout out town. We were pleased to learn that the EAC has recently received notification from Keep American Beautiful that Hudson will receive 25 cigarette butt receptacles. We are happy to work with EAC to further identify locations where the receptacles are needed, and hope that the city will educate residents while also properly maintaining the receptacles.

Litter being mowed over by commercial landscapers continues to be an issue. We saw many areas on city property and school property where litter was disregarded, mowed over, and left in place, making it easier for the plastic bits to get washed in to the storm drains and watershed, or be ingested by wildlife. It is important to note that the litter items that were mowed over were not small bits that were hard to see. These were large items that were clearly visible, like 32oz plastic drink cups, 12  and 16 oz aluminum cans, face masks, and full size snack bags. This type of irresponsible behavior by the landscapers is inexcusable, and should be met with a review of their contract with the city and/or school district. Are there any city ordinances in place to address this? If it is illegal to litter, why is it legal to make the problem worse? Landscapers should be required to first pickup litter before they mow. They are very clearly part of the problem and are contributing to the larger issue of 22 million pounds of plastic entering Lake Erie every year.

https://www.rit.edu/news/researchers-study-plastic-pollution-great-lakes

 

Final Observations

A high volume of litter was observed in several commercial parking lots along Darrow Rd, in the strip of retail and commercial businesses between Stoney Hill Dr. and Barlow Rd. But these areas were not addressed by any of our participants.

Residents are not using public trash and recycling cans properly. As we collected and discarded trash, we observed contamination and improper use in every recycling can in which we looked. The only ones that did not show contamination were empty. Most of the contamination was from non-recyclable cups with drinks still in them, and other non-recyclables. Meanwhile, recyclable items like aluminum cans and plastic bottles were routinely found in trash cans. This points to both carelessness and lack of education.