On the walk north on Massachusetts Avenue toward campus, the sidewalk, grass and bushes are littered with cigarette butts, empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and torn plastic bags.
Scott Berman, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and former president of student sustainability group Eco-Sense, decided to do something about the litter.
Berman organized the AU Community Trash Cleanup on the sunny afternoon of March 1, targeting the areas around Ward Circle and the Department of Homeland Security.
He plans on making the community cleanup a weekly event.
“There are enough AU students that live over this way and that use the shuttle stop that should be identifying with this as sort of their home,” Berman said. “And I don’t think anyone would tolerate somebody going into their backyard and dumping trash there.”
Berman reached out to Student Government and the Community Service Coalition to promote the event and help Eco-Sense in the cleanup. The cleanup will also contribute to AU’s ongoing battle to win Recyclemania, an annual national competition that encourages students to recycle.
AU ranked third in Recylemania in 2010.
“Picking it up by myself won’t change anything, but having people and groups join in can make more of a difference,” Berman said.
SG President Tim McBride and Secretary Kevin Sutherland lent a hand to the cleanup effort.
“This is where we live,” McBride said. “It’s not just for the neighbors, it’s for us.”
After 30 minutes of clean up, the group of seven students collected enough Solo cups, Natural Light cans, soda bottles, chip bags, a margarita mix bottle and more to almost fill two garbage bags.
Eco-Sense often organizes trash cleanups, tree planting and other environmental community service activities off-campus. Berman hopes the trash cleanup will connect the club and its goals directly to AU. Berman said he wants to extend the weekly cleanup’s reach on New Mexico Avenue and possibly on campus.
“As AU students it’s important for us to keep our area clean, and be responsible for our neighborhood,” Jenna Mitchell, a sophomore in CAS said. “And any trash in any sort of environment is not beneficial.”
Mitchell was walking from campus on Massachusetts Avenue when she saw Berman and company picking up trash and decided to help out. Berman said that was the main goal of the cleanup — for other students to notice the cleanup, see the amount of trash on the ground and join in.
“Each week we can do this clean up and hopefully reduce the amount [of trash] there,” Berman said. “But over time if people notice that it’s there and feel that they don’t want to put anything there in the first place, then that would be even more ideal.”
Camille Bogrand, a senior in CAS and a member of Eco-Sense, also joined the trash cleanup efforts to give back to the AU area.
“I can make a difference, even if it’s a small difference,” Bogrand said. “It adds up.”