Easy Ways to Prevent Litter from Reaching Streams


Feb. 29, 2016
For Immediate Release

Easy Ways to Prevent Litter from Reaching Streams

Easy Ways to Prevent Litter from Reaching Streams
Prevent your local stream from looking like this.

Wow! That's a lot of trash in the creek. Guess where it goes from here? The Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay, and then the Atlantic Ocean. This is just one segment of one stream. Fairfax County has 850 miles of perennial streams!

Storm drains in Fairfax County flow directly to local creeks and streams. This means every plastic bottle, gum wrapper, fast food container, soggy newspaper, toy, cigarette butt, and loose piece of trash that gets washed into the drain eventually ends up in a stream. Not only is the sight of floating litter disturbing and disgusting, it's unhealthy for the environment. Wildlife can become tangled and entrapped, and some birds and animals may choke or become ill from trying to eat trash.

How do we prevent this from happening? There are some easy things you can do starting today.

  • Secure your trash on collection days by using containers with a lid.
  • Place heavier recyclables on top of lighter materials in open recycling bins. This will prevent bottles and paper from blowing away.
  • Wait to place your trash and recycling out until the morning of collection day.
  • Organize or participate in neighborhood stream cleanups.
  • Adopt a road and keep it free of litter.
  • Choose a reusable bottle instead of plastic bottled water.
  • Choose reusable bags instead of plastic shopping bags.
  • Report overflowing trash cans and dumpsters.
  • If you see litter, pick it up and dispose of it properly. Every bottle, wrapper, and box adds up.
  • Secure trash and recycling before heavy rain events.
  • Store trash and recycling away from flood prone areas.
  • Storm drains are not trash cans. Never throw garbage in them.

(This list only addresses floating trash. Heavy, submerged debris from illegal dumping is a separate problem.)

If the sight of a stream clogged with floating trash bothers you, there's something you can do about it. Organize or participate in the Alice Ferguson Foundation's Potomac River Watershed Cleanup on April 16.

More Resources about Litter and Storm Drains

Storm drains are not trash cans: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/waterqualitybk.htm#drains

Educational Videos on YouTube

Contact: Matthew Kaiser, Public Information Officer 
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services 
703-324-8455, TTY 711


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