As part of the city’s duties in maintaining the stormwater system, staff members in the Environmental & Technical Division are launching a new effort with a messy name: Trashy Tuesday.
“Hosting litter clean-ups is a tangible way to have a positive impact, but we are also hoping to provide a gateway to help make bigger changes to improve the health of our waterway,” said Kaileigh Westermann-Lewis, Keizer’s environmental education coordinator.
As coordinator of Trashy Tuesdays, Westermann-Lewis is bringing together local volunteers to clean up litter at sites throughout the city on a regular basis. The next Trashy Tuesday clean-up is scheduled July 6 at a location to be determined. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up at www.keizer.org/TrashyTuesday.
Clean-ups begin at 5:30 p.m. when scheduled and last one hour. Registration beforehand at the website is encouraged.
“We are asking people to sign up in advance so we can bring the proper amount of equipment and we can be prepared for how to structure the event around COVID-19 guidelines,” Westermann-Lewis said. The city is supplying necessary equipment including vests, gloves, bags and pickers. Volunteers are asked to wear clothing suitable for the weather, close-toed shoes, masks and bring water. Face masks are required when gathered as a group onsite.
Sites are selected for their safety and accessibility as well as the impact cleaning can have on waterways.
“We want to make sure that all levels of ability are able to participate so we will be looking for sites that have paved walkways or sidewalks and protection from vehicles,” Westermann-Lewis said. “We will be focusing on areas near waterways/storm drains and other areas where debris has accumulated.”
Westermann-Lewis is also looking for a few “Super Volunteers” willing to lead teams themselves. Super volunteers will attend a short training and be provided equipment. The goal is to be able to run Trashy Tuesday events at multiple sites when scheduled.
Federal requirements for the city to manage municipal sewer systems now require an education program and a litter control program. Trashy Tuesday covers both requirements and, Westermann-Lewis hopes, can lead to larger conversations.
“The largest water pollutants come from vehicles – oil, fluids, tire rubber, etc. – and lawn and garden chemicals. Litter is a very visible problem and one that can have large impacts, but in the big picture, it is low-hanging fruit,” she said.