Since Durham started celebrating Creek Week in 2009, 3,400 volunteers have collected over 81 tons of litter.
Hikes, canoe rides, talks, films, and nature explorations have helped residents learn more about and directly experience our local waterways. Creek Week pioneers from Frog Hollow Outdoors, Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, and the City of Durham sought to address a chronically littered spot but ended up starting a wave of action in our city and across the state. In 2019 with Keep Durham Beautiful and the City’s Public Works Department at the helm, 17 organizations helped plan and lead 24 cleanups and 14 creek-themed activities for over a thousand participants. Seven other cities and counties have launched Creek Weeks based on Durham’s model.
It is good news that volunteers show up to remove litter that would otherwise end up in a downstream drinking water source or worse, in the belly of a sea turtle. Creek Week empowers neighborhood leaders to involve others, multiplying the number of people doing their part for clean water. By working together to plan and execute Creek Week, groups form relationships that benefit their year-round water and land preservation work.
The best news is that you can help. Reduce single use plastics at home and at work. Adopt a storm drain near home and work and clear it of litter and debris before each rainfall (www.draindurham.org). Empower colleagues to volunteer for a litter cleanup. And spread the word to help others discover and clean up a nearby creek, river, or lake.
PICTURED Burt’s bees trashtag litter cleanup March 2019