Annual cleanup project in Carrboro was a success

Who knew beer bottles, empty sushi containers, foam cups and old pairs of shoes littered Carrboro?

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First-year UNC-Chapel Hill students, Candace Foster (left) and Annette McDermott, helped pick up trash along the Carr Mill railroad tracks. The girls used the project to fulfill hours for the Buckley Public Service Scholar program that they are involved in. (Staff photo by Kane Hollingsworth)

Julie Collins, recreation supervisor for Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department, did, and she organized volunteers for the annual NC Big Sweep to do something about the problem.

“You’ll be surprised by the amount of trash you’ll find,” she told volunteers gathered in the Carrboro Century Center Oct. 12.

Boy Scout troops, high school students, college students and Carrboro community members came together the morning of Oct. 12 during Carrboro’s annual NC Big Sweep event to clean up the community.

“I think the big program will help reduce waste or keep it at bay so that it doesn’t overwhelm or have huge ecological damage in the area,” said Annette McDermott, a first-year student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

McDermott signed up for NC Big Sweep with her roommate, Candace Foster.  The two are Buckley Public Service scholars and said they were hoping to get started on their required service hours.

“I thought this was a good program to be involved in,” McDermott said.  “I feel like it’s covering a really large base with a good amount of people.”

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A pair of shoes was among the debris picked up during the NC Big Sweep in Carrboro. (Staff photo by Kane Hollingsworth)

There were between 70 and 80 volunteers divided into groups to address the trash in various problem sites throughout Carrboro.

Volunteers were given T-shirts and assigned to work sites.   Collins and her staff equipped volunteers with work gloves, trash bags and recycling bags.

“We usually pick up quite a bit,” Collins said.  “Over 800 pounds in trash and recycling tends to be the average.  There’s usually more recycling than trash, which is good because people are throwing out a lot of bottles and cans.”

Alex Phillips, a sophomore biology major from Durham, said she was surprised by the amount of alcoholic bottles that were strewn in bushes in downtown Carrboro.

“There were just so many,” Phillips said.  “I wasn’t surprised by how much trash itself we found but just by how many alcoholic bottles we found.”

Phillips said she was new to volunteering and found out about the project from fellow UNC-CH sophomore, Jesus Martinez.

“I really don’t volunteer a lot and I thought it would be a good time to do it because it’s such a good thing to do,” Phillips said.  “You see trash on the street all the time and wish it wasn’t there, but nobody actually does anything about it, so it’s nice to actually do it.”

Volunteers help pick up trash and recyclables along the railroad tracks behind Carr Mill mall.  The tracks were one of many of the sites targeted during this year’s NC Big Sweep project in Carrboro. (Staff photo by Kane Hollingsworth)
Volunteers help pick up trash and recyclables along the railroad tracks behind Carr Mill mall. The tracks were one of many of the sites targeted during this year’s NC Big Sweep project in Carrboro. (Staff photo by Kane Hollingsworth)

Martinez is a Carolina Covenant scholar from Durham and heard about Carrboro’s NC Big Sweep project from an email listserv.  He said he was surprised by the amount of bottles as well.

“They were in the bushes too, like in hidden places, so they knew they were doing it,” Martinez said.

“The challenging part right now is trying to figure out what to do with all that has been accumulated,” Collins said.  “Right now our truck is overflowing, so we might have to do two trips.”

Collins said she was impressed by the overall turnout and dedication of volunteers.  She said she hopes there will be as much support in the spring when Carrboro hosts its annual, “Keep Carrboro Beautiful” project, which will be another cleaning initiative for the community.

“A lot of people have already asked about the spring date which tends to have a lot lower participation,” Collins said.  “Hopefully we can get a lot more participation and make that one as big as this one.”

Author of the article

Editor of the Carrboro Commons