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Coming together to help the environment, community

As a member of the Reisterstown Improvement Association, I often receive emails about Saturday morning Main Street cleanup days.

For a few hours, volunteers meet at Landmark Shopping Center and split up — garbage bags in hand — working together to remove litter and waste from the Main Street area. The result of this hard work and collaboration is a clean, litter-free area for our community to enjoy.

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Having a clean, up-kept neighborhood benefits all members of the community. With the summer weather upon is, we are spending more time outdoors enjoying our natural surroundings. Unfortunately, some areas are in need of some TLC and cleanup. Tidying up your neighborhood can have a big impact on the community, as well as the environment.

Besides being an eyesore, litter can disrupt the ecosystem of your environment because it can attract many different insects and rodents, and can carry diseases. This can become harmful to animals or children, who might pick up dirty trash, step on it, or even ingest it. This trash — especially cigarette butts and flammable materials — can also start fires. Food waste can pollute area waterways and harm wildlife, as well as make our water unsafe to drink.

Litter can be found on our roadways, in our yards, and in common areas such as parks and schools, as well as in local natural areas such as woods or streams. It might seem a bit overwhelming to tackle the litter problem in your neighborhood alone, but even small efforts can lead to an improvement in your local environment.

Getting your community involved in a neighborhood cleanup can be a great way to create an awareness in your area, and can lay the groundwork for future waste-reducing efforts. A cleanup can also bring about a sense of community and responsibility to keep our homes and common areas safe and clean. Visible results might lead to a heightened interest and involvement among community members in reducing garbage and food waste, and preserving the environment.

This neighborhood cleanup does not have to be large in scale; it might just be a few families on your street getting involved, or it could be an entire neighborhood or church group. You could disperse fliers, go door to door or make an announcement in the local paper. With the prevalence of social media, organizing cleanups through a local Facebook group or blog might be a good idea, as well.

In order to have a successful neighborhood cleanup, you need to have the right supplies. You might want to provide some kind of snacks or drinks for your hard-working neighbors, as well as some rubber gloves and trash bags. You might also want to provide bags for collecting recycled materials. It's smart to set up an initial meeting spot such as a parking lot or home so that you can assign jobs or specific areas to tackle.

The cleanup is a great opportunity to beautify local common areas as well. This could be as simple as planting a few flowers, or fixing up a damaged sign or sidewalk. It is amazing how just a few minor changes can improve the look and feel of a community. You could also post signs asking neighbors not to litter. In addition, community cleanups provide a great opportunity to get out and meet your neighbors and enjoy the summer weather and sunshine.

You might also be interested in joining one of the local cleanup projects. In the spring, a group gets together to clean up the stream in the Chartley neighborhood in Reisterstown. For more information on the stream cleanup, you can visit cleanstream.allianceforthebay.org/ venue/chartley-stream-in-reisterstown/. If you would like to become involved in the Reisterstown Main Street cleanup, you can contact Dan Carey at shaneybrook@hotmail.com.

No matter if you are picking up litter from your own frontyard or organizing a community cleanup, your little impact will make a big difference.

Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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