Issues

Trash at the Creek

Photo: john cameron via unsplash

Trash: It’s a big problem.

But how bad is it, really?

Every spring since 2002 (except 2020, cancelled due to the pandemic), the Friends of Little Hunting Creek have cleaned up trash in and along the creek. Year after year, more litter keeps coming, and we are sick of it.

Between 2006 and 2023, 2,048 volunteers at sites along Little Hunting Creek collected:

4,333 Bags of Trash

320 Tires

206 Shopping Carts

1000s of Pounds of Bulk Trash

A large and growing share (about half the bags we fill) is recyclable water bottles.

People have asked if the photo above taken at Janna Lee Avenue bridge in 2012 is Photoshopped. It’s not. See for yourself the trash we’ve confronted over the years below and on our past cleanups page.

What will stop the litter?

Without incentives to change their behavior, litterers will not stop littering. By “litterers,” we include companies who do not take steps to prevent their products from becoming litter—such as bottled water companies—as well as garden variety litterers who toss fast food trash or beer cans from a car window.

We advocate for deposits on water bottles, so that people have an incentive to return them to receive the deposit. We advocate bans or fees on most single-use, disposable plastic bags, to reduce the amount of plastic available in the environment to become litter.

Advocacy

For years, we’ve written letters, lobbied our local legislators and Fairfax County officials, and testified in favor of policies and laws that would reduce litter. Not until the 2020 session, when the Virginia General Assembly changed parties, did we see success. A more brief synopsis of advocacy efforts over the years here. Link to full Advocacy page, which can in turn link to full list of testimony. Maybe a timeline on the advocacy page?

Education

We work to spread the word about single-use plastics, especially water bottles, which account for the largest volume of trash we pick up in our cleanups.  Litter flows downstream, so the single use plastics that pollute Little Hunting Creek end up in the Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay, and eventually the ocean, where they imperil marine birds and wildlife. 

What can you do?  Use less, reuse, and recycle.  Fill and refill a reusable water bottle to take with you, and don’t waste money buying bottled water, much of which is tap water in disguise.  Say no to plastic straws, and purchase bulk items using containers or reusable bags.  Keep reusable bags in your car to take to the grocery store.

Persistence

Year after year, the trash and litter keep  coming, and we keep picking it up. Read more about the history of our efforts to combat the litter at Little Hunting Creek.

We need your help!

All of our efforts depend on our network of volunteers. Join us to make an impact on the creek.

Do you know of a trash hotspot that needs attention? Are you interested in leading or participating in a cleanup in your neighborhood? Let us hear from you.

Photo: ©Philip Bogdan

Join Us!

Friends of Little Hunting Creek is a grassroots, volunteer-led organization that began as a group of genuinely concerned neighbors living near the creek.

We need your help to protect this beautiful place – join us today!

Our vision is a beautiful, healthy creek that supports wildlife living in it and along its shores, and provides recreation and respite to humans that live nearby. We envision a shared sense of community responsibility for the health of the Little Hunting Creek watershed and appreciation for its beauty.

Photo: ©Philip Bogdan