The pandemic has not stopped the trash. With the spring 2020 Corsica Clean Stream event cancelled, town and county resident have taken it upon themselves to conduct masked, socially-distanced trash clean ups. One such event took place along Route 304 between the Corsica’s Earle Branch tributary and Dulin Clarke Road. The photos show just how much these clean ups are needed.
Past annual Clean Up’s have been important events that allow town and county residents to undertake land-based actions that are also important determinants of water quality. Support has also been provided by the Town of Centreville, Queen Anne’s County, ShoreRivers, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Businesses too have an important role; the Conservancy is working to recognize those local businesses that support trash free environments.
During the Conservancy’s annual stream clean up in April 2019, close to 50 volunteers collected over 70 bags of trash. Plastic bags and bottles made up the overwhelming majority of what was collected. Also found were such things as tires, steel fence posts, and glass bottles. The trash we cannot see also has a negative effect. Trawls in the Bay have revealed a high level of microplastics trapped in vegetation and floating in the water column. These particles are harmful to aquatic life, not to mention to the birds and people who eat them. Plastic bags hang from tree branches where they have been swept by the wind. And those water bottles and straws? Forget about it. One use and they will last in the landfill for ever, or certainly past our children’s lifetimes.
Governments have started to take some action by putting recycling programs in place, in part forced by the fact that they are running out of landfill. But recycling is also getting more expensive. Recent efforts have focused on the front end of the trash stream–particularly for plastics–by avoiding trash creation itself. Banning plastic bags, for example, has taken hold in many Maryland cities and counties. A ban on large scale balloon releases was passed last year by the Queen Anne’s Commissioners-the first of its kind in Maryland (See https://www.qac.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1437). Businesses have also begun to realize that they can save money by asking patrons if they want a bag or a straw when shopping or eating out. Or by replacing styrofoam containers with alternatives. Or by cleaning up their own environments.
With the grasses dying back and the leaves falling off the trees, one has only to drive the roads of Queen Anne’s County to realize how far we need to go to remove the trash that cheapens our roads and flows into our streams and rivers.
Individuals are also part of the solution. Consider your habits.
What can you do?
- Take your own bags to the store. Cloth bags can be washed. Plastic bags are not safer during the pandemic.
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
- Don’t take straws unless you use them.
- Avoid Styrofoam and heavy plastic packaged items.
- Carry and use a refillable water bottle.
- Lead by example.
For more information on how to conduct your own pickup or to suggest additional clean up sites, email the Conservancy at CorsicaRiverConservancy@gmail.com. We are always looking for stream team leaders.