A Better Space

Wednesday was my 4th day in a row working with corporate volunteer groups to clean up litter on Belle Isle. Each day we left it spotless, and each day we found even more trash. We are finding less each day, but we are still finding quite a bit. I am visiting the same spots and finding the same beer cans, vape cartridges, and other trash each day.

We get an influx of corporate volunteer groups around Earth Day and it is my favorite time of year. I love getting to meet new people and help them develop a stronger relationship with the James River Park System. I think it is especially cool that so many of our local corporate partners come out to show their support for the Park.

We started our week off on Sunday with our first litter survey on Belle Isle. During this unique cleanup event, we worked with Data Company One and about 30 volunteers to scan each piece of litter we found using the GreenScanr app. GreenScanr helps users gather data about where litter is found and provides many great insights into the impact of cleaning up that litter.

Together we picked up and scanned 1,090 pieces of litter, and we learned a lot about the trash people leave behind on Belle Isle. We can use this information to make decisions about how we manage litter in the Park, and where anti-litter resources can be directed. Check out what we learned from this one event.


Results of the Litter Survey

I know, it feels a little overwhelming. The JRPS is for everyone, and not everyone has the same understanding of the value of our parks and how these spaces are made possible. It is really easy to get discouraged or feel like this work is futile when you clean up what seems like the same Twisted Tea can in the same part of the Park every day for a week. There is a lot of concern about the JRPS being “loved to death” and I worry that Belle Isle is becoming a good example of that.

We need to do more to instill a culture of sustainability in our Park users. I think that begins with showing people what responsible Park use looks like, across all cultures. I think the good can outweigh the bad if we all strive to leave our shared public spaces better than they were when we got there. It’s an integral part of our “Leave No Trace” mantra. Hundreds of people showed up to demonstrate that was possible this week, and that is why I am optimistic that we can create a better JRPS for everyone.

See you in the Park!

Josh Stutz, Executive Director
Friends of the James River Park

Clean Up Bucket from Lowe's

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