National CleanUp Day Sets Volunteer Record In Arizona

By Scott Bourque
Published: Sunday, September 20, 2020 - 3:08pm
Updated: Monday, September 21, 2020 - 4:45pm

Volunteers pick up trash on State Route 89
Arizona Department of Transportation
Volunteers pick up trash on State Route 89 Chino Valley.

Saturday was National CleanUp Day, and volunteers were out in force across the state picking up litter along Arizona’s highways. A record 50 groups participated this year.

Kelly Taft, project manager for Don’t Trash Arizona, says it costs Arizona taxpayers close to $4 million each year to collect litter along the state’s highways — and this year, they put special focus on cigarette litter. 

“Not only can they have devastating effects to our environment, they have toxic chemicals that can leach into our water supply," Taft said. "The filters don’t break down so they can get into our storm drains and affect our water supply, and right now with our extreme wildfire conditions, they can be devastating to our environment, as well as peoples homes and even lives and property.”

The amount of litter this year was just as bad as previous years — despite lower traffic counts due to the pandemic.

“We continue to see trash along the freeways, even with fewer cars on the road, we’ve seen a continued number of bags being picked up," Taft said. "Refrain from tossing things out your window, bring it home, throw it away properly.”

It’ll be a few days before organizers know exactly how many volunteers took part, and how much trash was collected.

Last year, more than 2 million people volunteered nationwide.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct Taft's title.