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Superior area cleanup pulls thousands of butts out of watershed.

Oct 23, 2018 01:35PM ● By Editor
Fifth graders from Great Lakes Elementary School discuss how to classify a piece of trash they picked up during a cleanup event Thursday, Oct. 18 at Central Park. They are, left to right, Tyler Dinh, Ian Woodall, Troy Anderson, Sevrin Johnson and Char Ansell. About 80 fifth-graders spent the afternoon picking up litter to prevent it from affecting the local watershed.  Photo:  Maria Lockwood/[email protected] 

By Maria Lockwood from the Superior News Telegram - October 23, 2018

More than 180 volunteers scoured nine sites in the Lake Superior watershed during Superior's annual coastal cleanup, collecting more than 627 pounds of garbage. Most of it was pulled from the Lake Superior shoreline and Faxon Creek, which empties into the lake.

One statistic that shot up this year was the number of cigarette butts and filters collected — about 2,000 compared to 400 last year.

"It's always really high," said Andrea Crouse, water resources specialist with the city of Superior Environmental Services Division.

She said people may be under the misconception that the fibers inside the filter are cotton or some other natural biodegradable material that will break down.

"Obviously, it's not," Crouse said. "It's also full of harmful toxins for any animal that might pick it up and eat it, or if it works into our streams and lakes it will slowly dissipate into the water as well."

Volunteers also prevented 161 single-use plastic bags, 156 plastic bottles, 181 aluminum beverage cans, 118 plastic bottle caps and 171 pieces of foam or plastic packaging from polluting the local watershed. Organizing the fall cleanup helps catch these items before exposure and snow breaks them down.

"I think anyone who's picked up an old plastic bag from the ground and they kind of fall apart in your hands knows how difficult that would be to clean up," Crouse said.

The final 14 pounds were collected Thursday, Oct. 18, when about 80 fifth-grade students from Great Lakes Elementary School biked to Central Park to pick up trash.

To read more of this story and read comments from the fifth graders about the clean-up project, follow this link to the Superior News-Telegram website.

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