As Lead Coordinator for this year’s annual Rivers Alive cleanup, I have the down and dirty yet entertaining job of driving around the nooks and crannies of our town to find the dirt. The old junk. The illegal garbage dumping grounds of Tucker, Georgia.
With our rivers, lakes and streams in mind, I scout out used and abused locations around town that need a little love and attention. Twin Brothers Lakes, various small local parks, South Fork Peachtree Creek, just to name a few sites.
If you’re friends with me on Facebook you may recall my upsetting rant a few days after last year’s Rivers Alive cleanup. We scoured a ¼ mile stretch of South Fork Peachtree Creek by Sarr Parkway and Greer Circle. By the time we finished, the place was bright and shiny like a brand new penny. Not one piece of garbage was left for the craw daddies to crawl over, nothing, nada.
Two days later on a Monday afternoon I took a drive over to the cleanup site to see if DeKalb County had picked up the two dumpsters we filled with 15,400 pounds of garbage and the other 800 pounds of recyclables we had separated.
The good news? Yes, everything was picked up, the county sanitation guys were on time, efficient, and a pleasure to work with. The bad news?
While turning around to leave the cleanup site, I noticed something yellow in the road. I put my flashers on, opened the car door and picked up, get this, a still warm, ½ eaten fast food sandwich with the wrapper. I was livid. Are you kidding me? It was literally thrown ten feet from the creek. One good rain deluge and whoola, Mr. Craw Daddy has another piece of trash to deal with.
I looked around and found more garbage AT the cleanup site! A plastic bag, a Styrofoam coffee cup with the name Christie on it. I could go on and on.
To think just two days earlier while being interviewed by WXIA-TV, volunteers bragged about how they were able to remove all the garbage from that ¼ mile of the creek. The school kids were tickled that Saturday afternoon ~ they walked away with mud on their clothes and that fantastic feeling of satisfaction ~ only for the new work week to bring out the litter bugs.
That corner of our town gets a double whammy, the folks who throw their garbage out the car window, and the more dangerous polluter, the Illegal Dumper. They’re the ones that do it in large scale size.
82 tires were removed from the creek that lovely day in October last year. That’s not a coincidence. 82 separate people losing their spare tire? I don’t think so. This is hard core, organized, large-scale polluting. A planned effort with intent to damage our ecosystem. We also removed 11 appliances and seven pieces of furniture out of the creek that day.
I spent part of yesterday afternoon driving around my sweet town of Tucker to analyze whether I should do a column on illegal dumping and litter bugs. I drove down street after street of beautiful homes and successful businesses, only to find tossed cups and old mattresses. My drive made the decision for me.
Yes, we as a society need to acknowledge this on-going destructive issue, and yes, we Tuckerites need to do what we can to rectify the problem in our little corner of the country.
If you see illegal dumping happen, call 911. Our Tucker police precinct will be there to support you. They were just as disgusted as we were at the 82 tires removed out of the creek last year.
What else can we do?
We can solicit the county to put up more “No Dumping” signs around town, especially the repeat offender locations. Keep DeKalb Beautiful is a good starting point:
Also, if you see someone throwing garbage out their window, don’t do anything drastic, we sadly can’t trust people’s reactions nowadays, but be a good citizen, help out your local craw daddy, and pick it up! It will only take seconds away from your day, and you may just get a jolt of energy out of doing something good.
Take a look at the photos I took yesterday as well. This is a visual story, and words alone cannot fully tell it. If you have photos to share, email your jpegs to email@example.com and he’ll add them to the column. Also, please feel free to comment and share stories as well as your photos. Where would you like to see cleaned up and why?
This year’s Rivers Alive cleanup will take place on Oct. 8, 2011, at 9 in the morning, likely at Twin Brothers Lakes off Lawrenceville Hwy. I have a few other locations to scout out yet so keep an eye on tuckercivic.org for more details or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.