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Woodstock Community Cleanup gathers lots of cigarette butts

by: JESSI EVEN - Volunteers walked heavily-traveled Woodstock neighborhood streets, picking up litter, during the recent Woodstock Community Cleanup. From left: Safeway employees John Haney, Garrett OMalley, and Marshal Morgan - who volunteered for cleanup duty, and said theyd had fun.Cigarette butts were the main topic of conversation at the end of the second annual Community Cleanup coordinated by WCBA Stakeholders members Angie Even and Gene Dieringer.

On June 22nd, from 8 to 11 am, fifty businesspeople and community volunteers – including ten children – picked up litter along 52nd Avenue from Steele to Duke Streets, and along Woodstock Boulevard from 52nd Avenue west to S.E. 39th (Chavez Boulevard).

“In four blocks, our can was filled with cigarette butts,” claimed Oliver Safford, nine-year old son of Brett Safford, who was there with a team of eight people from the forthcoming Green Zebra Grocery Stores.

“Oliver was lowest to the ground, so he was really a good butt man,” joked Shannon Hiller-Webb, Marketing and Communications Director at Green Zebra Grocery. Green Zebra will open its Woodstock store across from the Woodstock Branch Library in late 2013 or early 2014.

“We had to move from a canister to a bucket,” remarked ten-year old Noah Hansen, who was participating with his mother, Josie, and father Cory – who is Marketing Manager for Kahut Waste Services, a/k/a City Sanitary. The garbage company donated plastic garbage bags and a dumpster for the event.

In addition to cleaning litter from sidewalks and gutters, volunteers cleaned tree wells, planted flowers in flowerpots, and weeded the medians.

Woodstock Safeway’s Manager Art Galego participated, with a team of ten Safeway employees, including longtime Woodstock resident Marshal Morgan.

“It’s fun to see the people you know and serve [in the store]”, commented Morgan. “Woodstock has a good neighborhood vibe. People generally care about each other. And the owner of Papaccino’s, Sean Daugherty, gave the introductory speech before we left to pick up litter. He’s hilarious. It was fun to walk with him.”

Toward 11 am, as the cleanup wound down, the last teams snacked on donated Safeway muffins and Papaccino’s coffee at the Woodstock Community Center. Gene and Pat Dieringer, accompanied by Tim Even, pulled up in a truck filled with tree suckers they had trimmed from Woodstock Boulevard street trees.

As Angie Even and daughter Jessi (who was the event’s official photographer) cleaned up after the event, Angie praised those who gave cash donations for boulevard maintenance: Papaccino’s, Pace Setter Athletic, the Woodstock Community Business Association (WCBA), the Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA), Hope City Church, and Reed College.

Austin Sabin from John L. Scott Real Estate said he was glad to help, adding that he’d gotten involved because he wanted to give back to the community. “I am still overwhelmed by the number of cigarette butts that we picked up off the boulevard,” he commented.

According to a number of studies cited on the Internet, cigarette butts are frequently the number one item collected during cleanups in neighborhoods, along beachfronts, and in other public outdoor spaces and shopping malls.

Becky Luening, Chairperson of the Woodstock Neighborhood Association’s Sustainability Committee, said the cleanup team picking up litter on S.E. 52nd Avenue between Woodstock and Duke had gathered enough cigarette butts to fill a very large pickle jar.

“Blech,” she commented – adding, “You walk down the street and see one or two or a cluster of them, but when you get them all together, it’s gross.”

Cleanup volunteer Elisa Edgington, a member of the Sustainability Committee and a resource on all things recyclable, later informed THE BEE, “You can recycle cigarette butts! They CAN make recycled plastic products, like ashtrays and pallets. I went online and found a website. Check it out: www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades/cigarette-waste-brigade.html – to see where the butts can be sent.”

Maybe next year, cleanup coordinators will go one step further, and recycle these stinky stubs? In the meantime, many thanks were given from the WCBA and the WNA to all the volunteers who helped clean and beautify the Woodstock neighborhood.