Hundreds of pounds of trash taken out of waterways, ditches in Cedartown area for annual event

It’s a challenger that local volunteers step up to meet each year, and one that will continue to be a problem in Polk County until that one day when people stop finding ways to get rid of their litter into the local environment.

Keep Polk Beautiful’s annual Rivers Alive event focused this year on Cedartown, and more than 100 volunteers young and old were out participating in the annual cleanup on the sides of roadways and in waterways on Saturday morning, Sept. 30.

“So many people tell me they want the opportunity to help, and they’re out there,” said new Keep Polk Beautiful executive director Randy Cook. “We want to give these people an opportunity, and we want to give everyone a chance to help. We want to get the community to about recyclables and what they can do to make our community a beautiful place.”

The volunteers pulled hundreds of pounds of trash and recyclables from the area, but as Cook and many others know that is only a drop in the bucket when it comes to litter.

“The only thing that can really help the problem is having public access to the creeks,” he said. “Until we have that, we’re going to continue pulling out the same amount of trash from our creeks each year.”

One of Keep Polk Beautiful’s initiatives — with more details to be announced in the coming weeks — will be getting local high school students involved in the fight against litter.

He said a program is set to start in November which will provide opportunities for students to help in curbing litter with cleanup efforts, education and more.

“Nov. 15 is National Recycling Day, and with that is a concern over litter,” Cook said. “We’re going to kick off an initiative with both high schools on National Recycling Day, and we want to change the mindset of the kids growing up. We want them to believe that this is my county, and this is my state, and my country, and to take pride in it.”

In the meantime, Cook said that though Rivers Alive annually makes an impact, it’s likely they’ll pull the same amount of trash out of local waterways and ditches each year until several areas of litter control are addressed.

One of those is ensuring that creeks and streams have public access spots for volunteers to gain access and pick up trash year-round.

“Once you get public access and people using the creeks, it’s going to get better,” he said.

Several more events are upcoming, and Cook said his goal is to have one a month in Polk County focusing solely on ways the community can get involved in ensuring that the environment is as clean as possible.

He gave his thanks to the Cedartown Junior Service League, Bojangle’s in Cedartown, the Cook Farm and Gammage Funeral Home for their donations for the morning event.

Those interested in helping out Cook in his efforts as new executive director of Keep Polk Beautiful in making Polk County a natural treasure for generations to come, 678-246-1083 or via email at kpbeautiful@polkga.org.