Students take action to help clean the river


Volunteer on a Kayaking searching for trash in the river.

Photo by Paola Quiroz | Lifestyle Reporter

Paola Quiroz

Texas State students united at the 33rd Annual Great Texas River Clean Up on March 4 to keep the river beautiful and clean.

The annual river cleanup is an event to help beautify the river, creeks and riverbanks throughout San Marcos by picking up as much trash and debris around those areas. Various organizations, students and community members came out to help clean the river and its surrounding areas. This is the world’s largest river cleanup and this year there were more than 1,000 volunteers, a brand-new record.

Last year, volunteers picked up 11,000 pounds of trash, 6,000 pounds of recyclables, and 72 tires. Crew Leader Christina Lopez, geography Ph.D student, said last year there were only 750 volunteers, so with the growth in volunteers this year they are expecting to pick up a larger amount of litter than ever before.

Volunteers were spread out throughout the city, some along the river and its banks, while others were placed at the square or the outlets to help clean the watersheds and drains that flow into the river.

“We can clean the river corridor, but if we don’t clean the watersheds at large it doesn’t really help,” Lopez said. “We have to clean downtown, because the waste that is flowing into the river is causing some areas to be hot spots for E.Coli.”

The river is more than just a recreational area, it’s an ecosystem and it needs to be treated as such. The river is a major part of the San Marcos community and Texas State communities.

Volunteer Mallory Shelton, business administration junior, said students should be more aware of where their waste goes and how it affects the river.

“Right behind the bus stop at Sewell there was an insane amount of trash,” Shelton said. “We collected a huge bag of all types of food residue, possibly from when students are waiting at the bus stop.”

Volunteer Jocelyn Love, management senior, said her group picked up a lot of cigarette buds and recyclable items. Within 45 minutes, and they had already gathered many trash bags full of litter.

“We all utilize the river or we all know about it, so we should keep it clean to be able to enjoy it,” Love said.

City drainage department employee Manuel Elma said he is expecting there to be a lot of trash this year. He was driving around the city in one of the seven pickup trucks collecting debris and picking up trash bags from the volunteers.

“Students have a great impact on the river,” Elma said. “It is a lot of work to clean up, so it is great that students volunteer. It really helps the community.”

The river and its surrounding areas is used as a way to relax, relieve stress, do homework or have a good time. Love said, as students lucky enough to have a river right in our backyard, it is our due diligence to make sure it is kept clean and beautiful.

“We have the ability have a good time at the river right on campus so it is our duty to come and give back to it,” Love said. “We are known for our river, so we must take care of it.”

At the end of the clean up, students were given Gumby’s Pizza to thank them for their hard work. Large amounts of trash and debris were collected and now the river and city are looking clean and beautiful. The total amount of trash collected will be weighed and the final weight will be announced within a few days on the official Facebook page.

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