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Roadways, rivers benefit from record spring cleanups

DOWNRIVER – Steve Landers of Hickory Tavern created a raft and used it to collect and haul debris that he and others collected during the Reedy River cleanup in Laurens County.

Laurens County, South Carolina – With more than 200 volunteers participating, April’s various cleanup events throughout the county appears to have brought in the highest amount of trash ever collected from Laurens County roadways within a single month.
While the year-old  Keep Laurens County Beautiful affiliate has encouraged volunteer cleanup events several times a year, the impetus this year included a month-long competition with other Upstate counties that also have Keep America Beautiful Affiliates, said Keep Laurens County Beautiful affiliate Director Courtney Stonell.
With Earth Day falling near the end of April, in the eyes of Keep America Beautiful affiliate directors, April has become “Earth Month,” Stonell said, and volunteers came out in droves on many different days to work toward a cleaner Laurens County, collecting an impressive total of 11,281 pounds of trash from Laurens County roadways.

The seven Upstate counties which participated in the April challenge, which went through Earth Day on April 22, removed 60,000 pounds of litter.
Greenwood County ended up winning the challenge this first year.
More trash was collected in Laurens County in weeks following Earth Day, however, Stonell said, and it’s that continuation of the effort throughout the year which is important.

The City of Laurens held its volunteer cleanup on Saturday, April 29, and then on May 5, members of Laurens County Parks and Recreation joined with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Paddle SC, SC7 and community volunteers for the Reedy River Cleanup Greenup Day, using kayaks to clean along the Laurens County portion of the Reedy River.

The group collected three tires, a gas can and about 450 pounds of trash, including 101 balls that had floated down the river, Stonell said.
They included basketballs and many, many dog balls, Stonell said, presumably from some of the dog parks along the Reedy River in Greenville County.

“I kept them to be able to use them as a visual for the next team ecology,” Stonell said. “People need to see the impact of trash when it flows downstream in our rivers.”
Stonell invites anyone who collects trash on their own or within their organizations to let her know all totals of bags of trash collected in Laurens County throughout the year. In addition to beautification of the county’s roadways and waterways, the data is needed for the Keep America Beautiful affiliates.
Contact Stonell at

Story first appeared on Page 3 of the May 17, 2023 issue of The Laurens County Advertiser. 

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