PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nearly 300 volunteers joined Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and SOLVE in an effort to clean up Portland’s parks, neighborhoods and business districts in a Martin Luther King Day of Service.
The initiative, Keep it Pretty, Rose City!, brings volunteers to the community to remove litter and become local stewards of the environment.
Wheeler met a number of volunteers at Irving Park, NE 7th and Fremont, in their part of the clean up.
“We’re trying to make our community more beautiful by coming together from all walks of life, from all corners of the city, to pick up the trash,” Wheeler said Monday.
“The ‘Keep it Pretty, Rose City!’ is a new initiative we have here at SOLVE in partnership with the city of Portland,” said Quintin Bauer. “We’re looking to get all Portlanders engaged in taking care of their community and getting litter cleaned off of our streets, neighborhoods parks and natural areas.”
Bauer said the effort is a fun way to get people excited about taking care of Portland.
“It’s such a special place, the Rose City. It’s beautiful. Everyone loves it here. But over the years, you know, it’s looking a little messier than it usually is, so we really need people to come out and help us make a difference and get things cleaned up,” he said.
Though they find pieces of plastic, packaging materials, bottles and cans, the most common piece of trash they find is cigarette butts. And there is actually a program in place to get them recycled.
“We partner with a company out of new jersey called Terra Cycle that turns them into plastic lumber,” Bauer said.
One of the hundreds of SOLVE volunteers is Craig Graugnard, who’s been volunteering for about 2 years.
“I think people are looking for ways to volunteer but maybe they don’t know where to go and where to look,” Graugnard told KOIN 6 News. “The good news about SOLVE is there are opportunities that are happening all the time. Yu can actually create your own opportunity to clean up your street and get your neighbors to work out and help you.”
He said there’s a “psychology about litter” that feeds on itself. “If people see litter, then they’d be more inclined to litter. If they see a clean space, they’d be guilted to not littering.”
It doesn’t take long, about 2 hours, he said, and the time goes by quickly since you’re chatting with other people while you’re cleaning.
And Bauer said if you volunteer — most of the events are on Thursdays and Saturdays — SOLVE will handle the rest.
“We’ll have everything. Clean up supplies, litter grabbers gloves, and you can just show up and make a difference.”