The Corner Clean-up aims to reduce litter on the Corner

Litter was picked up among prominent problem areas near the Corner

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Students came from every class and with different interests in majors, but they all came together for the same purpose — to support the cleanliness and sustainability of Grounds at U.Va.

Anna Mason | Cavalier Daily

Created by the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, America Recycles Day was this past Friday and is the only nationally-recognized day to promote recycling. In honor of America Recycles Day, the U.Va. Office of Sustainability and the Contracted Independent Organization Green Grounds gathered a small group of students on the Corner to participate in The Corner Clean-up Saturday. This event is the second clean-up held this semester.

After meeting at Madison Hall at 11:30 a.m., about 20 student volunteers split up to cover the most littered streets surrounding the Corner and the off-Grounds areas where many upperclassmen live. 

Two student employees from the Department of Recycling at the University and the Office of Sustainability organized and led the event. The event lasted an hour, and volunteers successfully collected 15 bags of recycling and trash off the streets to prevent loose waste from causing more environmental damage.

“While this is a very downstream effect — we're not making … systemic change — it is a great way to reduce waste in our streams and waterways,” third-year College student Clara Falls said.

Falls is a student employee with the Department of Recycling, and she explained that while Facilities Management on Grounds has workers to keep the sidewalks and roads clear of litter, no one is paid to keep the areas off Grounds clean of debris. Students hope that this event could make an impact on the off-Grounds waste problem. 

Third-year College student Isabel Kezman worked with Falls to lead the event and discussed how the clean-up can increase Charlottesville’s awareness of littering. 

“The event itself is a cool opportunity to not only engage students but it’s also about visibility,” Kezman said. “It is possible [to get] people to acknowledge that our school has bad littering problems.”

Kezman and Falls led two different groups of volunteers to take on the task of cleaning up Madison Lane, Chancellor Street, 14th Street and Wertland Street. Sticking to public property, the students collected cans, bottles and many miscellaneous items to put into the landfill. The waste collected will be recycled correctly or disposed properly right after collection, a feat that would not be guaranteed without this event.

The groups worked together to quickly cover as much ground as possible. Students discussed important issues with improper waste disposal and laughed about some of the interesting items found. The event was a low-stress way to make an environmental change and possibly new friends.

The group that followed Madison Lane to Chancellor Street collected three full bags of recycling products and three bags of trash to put in the landfill within an hour. The other half of the volunteers went to 14th Street and Wertland Street. 

“We want to keep Grounds beautiful, so I appreciate that they held this event,” first-year College student Keely Fitzsimmons said. “It was nice to get to know some different people, especially as we had a lot of … representation from different [years].”

The volunteers were fueled by bagels and were bundled up against the morning breeze. The students came from every class and with different interests in majors, but they all came together for the same purpose — to support the cleanliness and sustainability of Grounds at U.Va.

The Office of Sustainability looks to improve the environmental well-being of the community at the University and promote a higher consciousness of environmental issues on Grounds. While this event was not designed to prevent littering on the Corner, the leaders of the event hope to eventually move in that direction. 

Falls explained that this event was a form of downstream change, which means that it was an event of small change and one that solves a problem — in this case, littering — after it occurs. The opposite would be a more systematic, upstream change that would involve stopping the problem itself before it occurs.  

“Hopefully in the future, we can find ways to make this [a] more upstream, preventing litter campaign,” Falls said.

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