The city of Baltimore is leading its citizens to a greener community.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is asking all residents to join in her Spring Cleanup on April 16, 2011 called, "Home to Harbor—Clean Water Starts in Your Backyard." This year's theme emphasizes the connection between litter and debris around the house and in the neighborhood and the cleanliness and health of the city’s streams and harbor.
"The City of Baltimore needs its residents to be more conscientious about the effects of littering. Carelessly throwing a wrapper on the street—even if it is 10 miles from the Inner Harbor—will eventually end up there, threatening the health of our water and streams," says Robert Murrow, Communications Manager of the Bureau of Solid Waste in the Department of Public Works.
In the upcoming cleanup, residents will be asked to pay special attention to make sure gutters and storm drains in their communities are cleaned and stay clean. "Storm drains are considered inlets and these inlets lead to the Harbor. People need to make this connection and not litter in them," says Mr. Murrow. Trash should never be swept into storm drains. In fact, residents should call 311 to report storm drains impacted by dirt, trash and debris to prevent flooding and to safeguard the health of the city’s waterways.
The Spring Cleanup renews the theme of Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s Fall Cleanup, "Streets are Streams—Clean Water Starts in Your Own Yard," which was held October 23, 2010. The cleanup emphasized the importance of cleaning streets, gutters and alleys. The goal was to raise awareness that litter and trash in the streets ends up in Baltimore's streams, Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.
The Mayor's Fall and Spring Cleanup started in the Fall of 2000. The overwhelming trash inundating the streets and neighborhoods of Baltimore became so noticeable it was time for action. At its inception, the initiative garnered 2,800 volunteers and 205 communities to clean 2,500 tons of debris. Ten years later, the initiative is still going strong. The Fall Cleanup of 2010 engaged the help of 2,000 volunteers and 124 community organizations to collect 144 tons of debris. In total, there have been 21 citywide cleanups with 83,074 volunteer commitments and 18,893 tons of debris collected.
The initiative has the threefold benefit of educating the city's residents of the problem of litter, getting them physically involved in helping clean it up; and getting people to become part of a community by participating alongside their neighbors. Bonding among participants usually occurs during the cleanup which is often followed by lunch.
The City of Baltimore understands that it cannot keep the city clean without engaging its citizens and making them aware of the problem. "We know we have our job, but we need the help of our residents to keep the city clean because we cannot do it alone," Mr. Murrow says. He believes the city's initiative "is a way of mobilizing residents in Baltimore to join in a one-day effort to clean-up trash in their neighborhood, in the hopes of extending that year-round to keep it clean."