“Why isn’t Richmond County involved?” she asked herself.
Richardson signed up to coordinate a Big Sweep Day in the county on Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., when volunteers will be asked to get out and pick up trash along the county’s waterways.
The state’s Big Sweep began in 1987 as an effort to clean the state’s beaches, but was expanded in 1989 to include in-land waterways. It is North Carolina’s part in a larger effort called the International Coastal Cleanup, to rid the environment of debris.
“This cleanup is really important in North Carolina, because litter hurts our local economies, especially tourism and new business recruitment,” said N.C. Big Sweep Chairman Chip Dodd. “Litter also contaminates our water supply and endangers people and wildlife.”
Last year, more than 18,000 volunteers signed up statewide, cleaning more than 1,300 miles and retrieving about 260 tons of litter. Over the previous 22 years, Big Sweep volunteers have collected more than 9.8 million pounds of trash.
“Volunteers have the power to change our environment,” N.C. Big Sweep President Judy Bolin said in a release. “The time to act is now. Talk to your friends and family about the upcoming cleanup and ask them to help out. In just a few hours, volunteering, we can make a really big difference.”
Richardson said making the county a better place to look at is motivation in and of itself.
“You do this for all the reasons that you should pick up trash and for all the reasons you shouldn’t litter,” she said.
In Richmond County, Mark’s Creek is the only waterway listed on the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ list of troubled waterways due to litter, but Richardson said the focus doesn’t have to be on one creek.
“Whatever anyone wants to do is fine,” Richardson said. “I don’t want the focus to be on any one waterway. If people want to clean somewhere close to their home, that’s fine. Just as long as you pick up litter somewhere.”
She also explained she’s not planning to gather volunteers at the beginning of the day, because the time spent driving to and from a rendezvous point would be better served getting straight to work.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.