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Global Youth Service Day

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Global Youth Service Day

On Sunday, April 17, 2016, Xtreme Teens participated in Global Youth Service Day ( Nine volunteers joined staff from Special Programs Division/Youth Services staff to learn about plastics pollution and remove trash from the Anacostia River at Bladensburg Waterfront Park. Sustainability Instructor Antonia Bookbinder explained how plastic bottles were once viewed as just “litter”: ugly but harmless, and how scientists’ understanding of plastic has changed in the last decade. Plastic has been found throughout the ocean and most of that plastic comes from rivers and streams. Plastic is eaten by fish and birds when it is mistaken for food. Even worse, plastic can absorb and concentrate many harmful chemicals, which are passed on to animals that eat plastic.

The Anacostia River was one of the first rivers in the United States to be classified as “impaired” (polluted) by trash, and almost 60 percent of the river’s trash is made up of plastic bottles. Volunteers learned how picking up plastic bottles and aluminum cans and recycling them not only helps keep the Anacostia River and the oceans healthy, but also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

Volunteers cleaned a 100 foot segment of shoreline near the Anacostia Tributary Trail Bridge and collected 15 garbage bags of trash, including a traffic cone, a pair of jeans, and a green winter squash. Volunteers then helped sort five bags of trash to count the plastic bottles and aluminum cans and estimate how many bottles were collected. The results were startling: volunteers collected about 360 plastic water bottles, 220 plastic bottles that had held soda and other drinks, 7 motor oil bottles, and 17 aluminum cans. Recycling those aluminum cans saved almost 4 kWh of electricity, enough to run a large plasma television for 14 hours

Xtreme Teens for Streams program will be sponsoring more watershed cleanups to help the Anacostia and other local waterways.