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Cleaning up with the Cascades Green Team

Volunteers prepare for field work at the Fall 2013 Cascades Trash Bash. Photo Courtesy/ Kathie Felix.
This week, Mark Lenko, director of the Cascades Trash Bash and a vice president of Keep Loudoun Beautiful, is putting the finishing touches on preparations for the annual spring Cascades Trash Bash and Food Drive, taking place on Sunday, April 6, from 12:30 to 5 p.m.

Since 2008, the event has evolved from a litter cleanup project where volunteers did some local cleaning and left trash bags for roadside pickup to a family-friendly day that starts with a social gathering and a food drive for the Loudoun Interfaith Relief pantry, followed by outdoor cleaning throughout eastern Loudoun with an emphasis on recycling.

“I’m sort of on my own personal campaign to get the light bulb turned on in people to see the value of recycling,” Lenko said.

That light appears to be shining brightly. Since he began directing the event in October 2009, the Cascades Trash Bash has recycled 370 bags of discarded materials, disposed of 237 bags of trash, gathered 49 tires and donated 247 pounds of food.

Lenko offered a variety of statistics to illustrate the consequences of thinking and acting green. He said the energy saved by recycling one glass bottle can light a 100-watt bulb for four hours or run a computer for 30 minutes. Recycling one aluminum drink can will save the equivalent of half a gallon of gasoline, or enough electricity to run a television for three hours.

“When all that stuff ends up in a landfill, it’s millions of gallons of gasoline we’re throwing away,” he said. “We can do better than that. We really need to do better than that.”

According to Lenko, one simple step can greatly reduce the litter footprint in any community: the use of a covered recycling bin. This type of bin, a resource provided at no cost to Cascades residents, ensures that a neighborhood’s recycling doesn’t become an area’s litter. He’s concerned, however, by the low rate of acceptance of the covered bins in the area’s townhouse communities.

“There are only about a dozen—out of thousands of townhomes—that do it,” he said.

The Cascades Trash Bash begins April 6 at Potomac Baptist Church at 20747 Lowes Island Blvd. with check-in, door prizes and giveaways and a pre-cleanup briefing from 12:30 until 1 p.m. Participants are encouraged to register online in advance to receive event updates, including any weather-related announcements. To register and for more information, including food donation needs, go to http://www.sempertech.com/ctb.


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