Home Local News Mother, daughter clean Rockingham park on Earth Day

Mother, daughter clean Rockingham park on Earth Day

Kelly Chandler, right, and her daughter, Kaylynne, pick up trash around the picnic area of the Hitchcock Creek Greenway for Earth Day.
William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — One Richmond County woman and her daughter spent the morning of Earth Day cleaning up a local park.

Kelly Chandler and her 9-year-old daughter, Kaylynne, walked around the Hitchcock Creek Greenway on Monday picking up trash and cigarette butts. 

Chandler said she chose the park so she could bring her daughter with her.

Most of what was collected was plastic candy and straw wrappers and Easter grass, presumably from an egg hunt over the weekend.

The cigarette butts were collected separately to be sent off for recycling.

“There’s a company called Terracycle that takes hard-to-recycle items such as cigarette butts, razor blades, sneakers, bottle caps, contact lenses in the blister packs … stuff that the recycling centers won’t take,” Chandler said. “So they take it, they recycle it and create stuff like playground equipment, that’s already made out of a hard plastic; but rather than use raw materials, they use recycled materials.”

She said she will take them home, dry them out and send them in.

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.” 

Her interest in the environment goes back to her childhood.

“I grew up on ‘Captain Planet’ and ‘Fern Gully,’” she said, adding that, as an adult, she started to become more concerned in her early 20s.

Kaylynne is following in her mother’s footsteps, saying several times during the cleanup how it was “disgusting.”

She even once commented out loud about a downtown litterbug.

“We were walking through downtown and somebody stopped their car, got out, placed a McDonald’s cup in front of the trash can and walked back to their car,” Chandler recalled. “And she (Kaylynne) turns around and she goes, ‘Why are people so disgusting? … That lady just littered.’”

Kaylynne is also trying to get her school, Temple Christian, to organize a cleanup.

Chandler said said the woman turned around and walked back, “shot me a look, grabbed her cup and hopped back in her car and left” — without throwing the cup in the nearby trash can.

The family moved back to Richmond County from Greensboro in August and Chandler recently formed a local chapter of the Raleigh-based Toward Zero Waste.

“Our main focus is to get people to consume less,” she said. “Because if you consume less, you have less waste — and less waste is a better thing for everybody.”

She plans to have a table set up at the upcoming Ellerbe Strawberry Festival with information on how people can limit their waste, including using reusable water bottles to using straight razors instead of disposable blades.


Chandler also wants to organize more cleanups in the future to help improve the look of the county.

“On one of the Facebook groups, people are always posting pictures of stretches of road that have trash,” she said. “People just go by and dump their trash rather than taking it to the dump or the landfill … so I’d like to figure out where those are and what the best way to go about it is.”

According to County Manager Bryan Land, 13 tons of garbage were picked up by county employees during the months of December and January.

Chandler’s Facebook group, Toward Zero Waste Richmond County, has information on recycling and reducing the amount of garbage produced.

“We’re trying to build up a bigger group so we can actually get together and do more stuff like this so we can make an impact,” she said. “We loved Greensboro, but we always knew we wanted to come back to Richmond County at some point and I want her to actually have a (clean) Richmond County to grow up in … (and) if she wants to stay here, for her kids to play in.”


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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.