Image Credit: Courtesy of Jilbert Ebrahimi for Unsplash
Picture this: the neighborhood of Old Town, with its lush green grass, fruit bearing trees, and a vacant sidewalk for students to pass through. But after a Friday night of outings, there are beer cans scattered on the grass, broken glass on the sidewalk, and empty 7- Eleven pizza boxes scattered nearby the road. It’s a rather gloomy scene to wake up to on a Saturday morning.
Sustainable Oceans Alliance of University of Maryland President Cristina Czochanski thinks the culture of littering has not fully subsided in College Park. “Every week there is more litter being disposed of on the ground rather than the garbage, trash, or compost bins. I have noticed this since I was a freshman at UMD,” Czochanski said.
According to Czochanski, littering can do a lot of harm to the environment such as foreign and toxic substances directly into the ecosystem. “When we litter, it enters our streams via rainfall runoff and damages these natural processes in addition to wildlife,” she said.
Local Greek life organizations have made efforts to prevent ground pollution from plaguing the neighborhood of Old Town. Sophomore journalism major Matthew Kiras of Zeta Beta Tau says his fraternity cleans up trash as a form of community service.
“We do keep a lot of cleaning the city projects to keep our area clean and green. We still have events to clean the city coming up and we’re looking forward to cleaning the community up,” said Kiras.
Letters and sciences sophomore Niya Haynes of Zeta Tau Alpha says her organization makes sure the outside of their house is free of litter and believes her sorority is cognizant of ground pollution. She also says that she has participated in trash cleanups around Old Town with her sorority.
“We actually have a ‘Go Green’ committee of girls who help other girls within the chapter reuse and recycle,” said Haynes. As for Czochanski, her organization will continue to educate and bring awareness about pollution, specifically plastic pollution, and correct waste disposal on campus. She also hosts weekly cleanups.
“So before we can educate everyone on campus, I host litter cleanups every Sunday where volunteers come out for an hour to clean-up and correctly dispose of litter,” said Czochanski.
She also said that SOAUMD has worked with facilities management to do a sustainable ambassadors program to educate tailgaters on how to properly dispose of trash and practice sustainability. The program is set to continue for next year’s football season.