DECATUR, Ala. - On Monday, January 21, Tennessee Riverkeeper staff and volunteers will conduct a litter cleanup along the banks of Dry Branch Creek near the Tennessee River in Decatur, Alabama.
In 2019, Tennessee Riverkeeper launched a microplastics campaign to remove plastic and other litter from waterways, while educating the public about this pollution threat.
"Scientists determined recently that the Tennessee River is one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S. in terms of micro plastics. It's polluted by as many as 16,000 to 18,000 particles per cubic meter. Those levels are higher than some rivers in China and Germany," explained Tennessee Riverkeeper founder David Whiteside.
Whiteside said the solution to fighting micro plastics is preventing them from getting into the deep water.
"It's more efficient to pull them from the shore and shallow water like you see behind me," Whiteside added. "These clean ups are not only designed to remove the eyesore that litter creates, but also to prevent this plastic pollution from making it into the deep water."
Dry Branch Creek near the Tennessee River is a collection zone for garbage. Often litter that gets thrown out on streets will flow into creeks and rivers after rain events via drainage systems.
Whiteside says litter is something we are all responsible for, and we should do our part to clean it up.
"The Tennessee River is one of the greatest assets that we all own," Whiteside stated. "It's a shared asset. Its owned by no one and all of us at the same time."
Whiteside says the goal is to improve water quality of the Tennessee River. He believes that starts with organizing clean ups and educating others about how litter impacts the environment.
The cleanup will occur from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Volunteers should wear warm clothes that can get dirty and meet at the corner of Davis Street NW and Washington Street NW in Decatur. Gloves, trash bags, and litter grabbers will be provided.