Tennessee Riverkeeper cleaning Dry Branch Creek, educating everyone on impacts of littering

DECATUR, Ala. - Tennessee's Riverkeeper has met twice since January to clean the country's dirtiest river- the Tennessee River.

Decatur's Dry Branch Creek meets up with the Tennessee River, and the founder of Tennessee Riverkeeper said Decatur seems to have more problems with littering than most cities.

"The levels of litter in Decatur seem to be greater than almost any other market that we're working in," said founder David Whiteside.

Whiteside added scientists have found the Tennessee River is polluted by anywhere between 16,000 and 18,000 particles per cubic meter of microparticles.

Whiteside said he hopes his organization can raise awareness of this problem and educate others on the impact that littering can have on our environment and humans.

Whiteside explained microplastics are small pieces of plastic debris that break down from products like bottle caps, and they're not always filtered out of the water we drink.

"These microplastics are toxic," he stated. "Plastics are generally made from petroleum-based chemicals, we know that's not good for you."

Whiteside stated there are a few ways we can start to eliminate microplastics from our water.

"All of this plastic that we're seeing in our water is a huge problem, but we're all guilty of this," he continued. "If you've ever used a single-use plastic in your life, you're part of this problem. We need to phase out single-use plastics and we need to stop littering."

Whiteside said the 14 volunteers that have come from all over Alabama to help clean Dry Branch Creek have been incredibly helpful, and they're making a difference in the river.

They plan to have another cleaning day on March 30, and if you'd like to get involved you can find out more about the organization on their website, and you can find their next event on their Facebook page.

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