EAST ROCKINGHAM — A small group of people took time out of their day Saturday to help curb pollution and improve the aesthetics of two Richmond County roads.
Kelly Chandler, founder of Toward Zero Waste Richmond County, and six other volunteers picked up four large bags of trash along Chalk and Freeman Mill Roads.
Chandler said in a Facebook post that the garbage was comprised mostly of empty alcohol and fast food containers, “and a whole lot of cigarette butts.”
Helping her out were her husband, Adam, Phil Joines, Allison Story, Alexis Wise and her two children, Atticus and Callie.
Story is no stranger to clean-up efforts.
In 2016, she organized an effort on the Richmond County side of Blewett Falls Dam after posting a video (with commentary) of trash all over the area
It took the group about an hour and a half to clean up the areas, encompassing about 3/4 of a mile, Chandler said.
“It was pretty bad,” Chandler said Monday. “Not as bad as other places I’ve seen, but bad enough that we filled our bags a lot faster than I thought we would.”
Chandler had more help on this endeavor than her first, which was a cleanup around the Hitchcock Creek Greenway on Steele Street for Earth Day.
On April 22, Chandler and her 9-year-old daughter, Kaylynne, walked around the park collecting mostly plastic candy and straw wrappers and Easter grass, presumably from an egg hunt the previous weekend.
Chandler is taking classes on environmental studies and sustainability at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her ultimate goal, whether professionally or as a hobby, “is to do something to get people to be more sustainable.”
The group is planning another cleanup in July (no location has been set yet) and trying to plan an event geared toward kids at a later date, Chandler said.
“Hopefully as we have more clean-up days, we will have more people come out to help, or find somewhere near them that they are willing to clean up,” she added. “The sad reality is that the area we cleaned up will probably look like it did again within a month, if not less, unless people change their habits and their mindset.”