Ward 8 has long suffered from waste-management problems tied to disinvestment and neglect, leading to trash on streets, in parks, and in streams that contaminates and poisons soil, water, and air. Trash’s very presence sends a message that it’s OK to drop more, so the cycle of litter and dumping – and constant clean-ups we conduct – continues. Our work is a start, but it is not enough.
#CleanItClaim It is an effort to interrupt the cycle by changing circumstances and attitudes behind littering and dumping, leading to cleaner, more attractive streets and green spaces.
Scholarship and our surveys have found that littering rises in the absence of a sense of ownership or control in places where residents struggle just to survive. Proper trash disposal may be the least of their concerns, and any extra effort it requires may not feel worth the time.
Our campaign confronts this tendency head-on with the message, Our Community: Clean It, Claim It. The campaign’s three parts are: (1) Adopt Your Woods; (2) Waste Disposal Advocacy; and (3) Signage.
Adopt Your Woods
Do you live near a wooded area in Ward 8? Are you a social, civic, or community organization looking to make a substantial difference in our immediate surroundings?
Park Stewards are on the job, but can’t be everywhere at once. Ward 8 already relies on a tradition of civic-minded neighbors taking responsibility for their own blocks and beyond. (In fact, that’s how Ward 8 Woods started.) More of us now need to join them to meet and overcome the challenge of trash pollution.
It’s not hard! We supply gloves, bags, and signage. You and other volunteers provide the TLC and the eyes on the ground. Woods Adopters commit to:
Studies show that people litter more where litter abounds, so frequent cleanups reduce trash overall. Timely notice of illegal dumping also helps, enabling the DC Department of Public Works and Metropolitan Police to hold offenders accountable until the dumping stops.
It is also a great way to meet your neighbors, build community, and exercise.
To sign up or just to learn more, complete this interest form.
For questions, contact Keith Jones.
Waste Disposal Advocacy
Another way to cut litter is making waste disposal easier. Ward 8 Wood works with Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and the Department of Public Works to install new street cans where they are needed most.
Buildings with more than four housing units do not receive municipal trash collection; their owners must contract with private companies for dumpsters and bins. Inadequate or infrequent service leads some residents to throw their trash in streets, parking lots, or adjoining woods. Through building-by-building research, organizing, and advocacy, Ward 8 Woods is working to force landlords to fix these unsanitary conditions.
Since March of 2022, we have installed 100 custom-designed signs in areas where littering and dumping abound, designed by local artist Heather Mazen. Heather used messages suggested by residents to emphasize ownership, empowerment, and local pride. These signs create a strong visual presence that sparks conversations about littering and behavior change.
To request #CleanItClaimIt sign for display at your home or place of business, contact Keith Jones.
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