Currents | May 2022

Did you know that the Great Lakes are the biggest freshwater source in the world? Lake Erie is the most productive for fishing of all the Great Lakes. Your support helps make our streams clean, clear and healthy so they can support this complex ecosystem. By donating to PCS, you help us reach our goals of restoring rivers that lead to Lake Erie beaches that promote fishable and swimmable conditions for generations.

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May 2022

Glass City Marathon Green Team volunteers after Saturday's Savage 5k after-party.From recycling glass, aluminum, and plastic, to composting food scraps, pizza boxes, and cups, the Green Team made a huge impact during the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon race weekend. Between April 22-24, twenty-four volunteers helped keep trash out of landfills and diverted marine debris far from the Ottawa River.

2022 marks the seventh year that Partners for Clean Streams has coordinated the Green Team, and the first year that the Toledo Road Runners has offered exclusively compostable cups at all water stops throughout the multiple races. This change alone allowed us to divert hundreds of pounds of waste away from a landfill and to a composting facility. The Green Team also recycled full dumpsters of cardboard, seven rolling totes full of glass (thanks O-I for recycling), and dozens of bags of aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

Why do we coordinate recycling and composting during this event? The Mercy Health Glass City Marathon is closely tied to the Ottawa River. The starting line is on the Secor Road bridge over the Ottawa River, and the race course overlaps with the river at several places across Ottawa Hills and Toledo neighborhoods, and even in Wildwood Metropark. Recycling, composting, and proper trash disposal during this massive event allows us to prevent some of the marine debris that we tackle all year long. Changing habits like buying compostable cups (just like we choose to use reusable water bottles instead of single-use bottles) is a key practice in preventing misplaced trash.

Many thanks to our Green Team co-coordinators at Keep Toledo/Lucas County Beautiful, to the University of Toledo Office of Sustainability for providing staff and supplies during race weekend, and to our Green Team allies for their help with trash management and cleanup: Goodwill custodial staff and Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

Thanks to everyone who made a donation or volunteered their time with us during race weekend! You can still support the Green Team by making a donation here.

One young Clean Your Streams 365 volunteer holds up a strange find.Although you can always clean-on-your-own with Clean Your Streams 365, this season we’re reintroducing online registration so you can join upcoming public CYS 365 programs. We bring everything – you just bring yourself and your willingness to help! Read on for our upcoming clean-up opportunities and check back for more throughout the summer.

Since we’re a stewardship-focused organization, conscientious citizens around northwest Ohio often let us know when they find a waterway site in need of a helping hand. Sometimes they just want to borrow supplies to clean-on-their-own, but other times we encounter a site that’s a good fit for a public program. These sites sometimes have too much marine debris for a small group to tackle, or they’re in a good location for a neighborhood or community to come together to steward their local waterway.

At a public clean-up, we’ll always have a PCS staff and/or a board member on-site to orient everyone to the location and offer some education about the sources and impact of marine debris. We’ll also facilitate the clean-up process with an eye for safety, and once we’re finished, we offer a thank-you item (a marine debris reduction tool!) to each volunteer.

Register for our upcoming clean-ups here. If you have a site to suggest in need of a clean-up, feel free to Contact Us through our website.

A Clean Your Streams 365 volunteer collects microplastics marine debris on their glove.What do our many programs have in common? They focus on removing or preventing marine debris: human-created materials that find their way into our waterways, either deliberately or accidentally. Learn more about where marine debris comes from, and how you can join the fight against trash in our waterways.

Marine debris comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. Those of you who have joined us for Clean Your Streams Day or Get the Lead Out already know this to be true. Everything from foam coffee cups, to aluminum cans, to plastic grocery bags, to shopping carts, to tires – even sunken boats! – are all considered marine debris. Some of the toughest forms of marine debris to remove from the environment the smallest: tiny plastics like microbeads, pellets, and fibers.

What are some everyday ways you can reduce waterway pollution? Here are some of our favorite tips:

  • Say no to straws in your drinks! Straws from restaurants and fast food cups are found in waterways all over the world. You probably don’t drink from a straw at home, why do it at a restaurant?  
  • Use reusable grocery bags. Plastic bags are by far one of the most commonly found items in our watershed clean-ups.
  • Look for cardboard packaging at grocery stores or bulk found sellers instead of plastic packaging. Cardboard is more easily recycled and decomposes faster. Buying items in bulk not only cuts down on excess packaging, but also saves you money.
  • Try non-toxic cleaning supplies, soap, and lotion or cleaning supplies that come in minimal packaging. 
  • If you are a smoker, be a responsible smoker. Carry a pocket ash-tray with you and be sure to dispose of the contents in the trash.

Have you checked out our Marine Debris 101 resources? We’ve got lots more information on the sources of marine debris, its impact on our waterways, and how you can help.

Trash Free Waters Toledo logo overtop of a "Brute Bin" trash trap device in Swan Creek, Toledo, Ohio.Starting in 2021, the City of Toledo has led a project through US EPA’s Trash Free Waters program to install trash capture devices around Toledo’s waterways and raise awareness around marine debris. The City has recruited a team of community organizations – including us – to provide outreach and volunteer clean-ups alongside these trash trappers. Now in its second year, learn how things have been going!

Trash trapping device raise awareness by making the issue of marine debris more visible to the public. Sometimes the scale of marine debris is hidden when trash is dispersed across a waterway, but seeing trash in a device creates an opportunity for awareness to motivate action.

Currently, the City’s plan is to install devices in four general areas around Toledo to see how much and what types of trash are generated in particular spots. These areas were selected in order to compare trash across residential, commercial, and industrial areas, and because they are likely trash hot spots. Within these areas, 7 or 8 devices will be installed.

Although devices were removed during cold weather to avoid damage, some are back in our waterways already! So far in 2022, two trash trappers called “Brute Bins” have been installed: one in Swan Creek near Owens Corning Parkway, and the other near the corner of Stickney Avenue and Matzinger Road. So far, both bins have caught plenty of single-use plastic, in addition to some stranger items like kickballs balls, a tarp, and even a car tire.

We will continue to work with the City of Toledo and other partner organizations, including the University of Toledo, Keep Toledo/Lucas County Beautiful, and Toledo Metropolitan Council of Governments to accomplish the goals of the project this year.

Learn more about Trash Free Waters on our website.

Partners for Clean Streams Inc. is striving for abundant open space and a high quality natural environment; adequate floodwater storage capacities and flourishing wildlife; stakeholders who take local ownership in their resources; and rivers, streams and lakes that are clean, clear and safe