Let’s talk Litter

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest members, Nicole Poletto and Lauren McKenna

Clackamas Middle College @ Phillips Creek on 2.7.2013

When you look at a map of Phillips Creek, one of the first things that you notice is that it is surrounded by a sea of concrete, asphalt, and development.  What does this mean for the health of the creek in this urban watershed??

If you drop a piece of trash in a parking lot, where might that end up?  It might wash into Phillips Creek – which eventually will make its way out to the ocean.  Due to gyres, the Coriolis effect, and a whole bunch of trash, there is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the middle of the Pacific ocean that is twice the size of Texas.  It contains 3 million tons of plastic, with 6 pounds of plastic for every 1 pound of plankton!

Since 80% of marine pollution is land based, what can we do to help the health of the streams, oceans, and the creatures living in them?!

Clackamas Middle College had some solutions!! They brainstormed ways to reduce their personal plastic use and then did their very own litter clean up!  They not only picked up trash from the immediate bank of the creek, but also in the surrounding parking lots and around their school!  We found standard items like food wrappers, cans and bottles. But we also found 3 shopping carts, an old toy fire engine, a broken chair, and a few other unique items that one would not expect to find in a creek.

One groups findings from the class period!

One groups findings from the class period!

A few students helped go through the collected litter (46 bags to be exact) and rinse it with a hose.  (You might be thinking…that sounds silly…why would they be doing that?).  Next month Clackamas Middle College will be creating their very own art out of the litter they collected from the creek!  Stay tuned to check out their creations!

A truck full of trash and 3 shopping carts...not bad for a day's work!

A truck full of trash and 3 shopping carts…not bad for a day’s work!

Thanks Clackamas Middle for all of your hard work!


SOLVE’s Annual Women in Science day will be held at Glen Otto Park in Troutdale on March 23rd from 9-1.  Girls – Are you interested in exploring a career in science?  Come learn more and chat with mentors currently in the science field over breakfast!  We will also be planting native trees and shrubs with the mentors in the afternoon. Come and check it out!  Register online at : http://www.solv.org/get-involved/events/women-science-day.  See you there!


If you are interested in reading more about the garbage patch, this article was written the day before our litter clean up:  http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2013/02/fishing_for_plastic_in_a_peace.html#incart_river

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