When Lauren Mercer and her daughter, Haydn, first started walking to school, Haydn would pick up litter along the way and Mercer would stuff it in her pockets.
Soon, they graduated to garbage bags.
The mother-daughter duo have formed a litter pickup team, with other families coming along for scheduled projects at city-owned property.
Haydn was 8 years old when she and her mother began walking together to school after the New Albany-Plain Local School District eliminated busing for students who live within a 2-mile radius of the district campus.
When busing was reinstated, Haydn still wanted to pick up litter, Mercer said.
When they couldn't find a community program to suit their purpose, they decided to start their own, Mercer said, and the New Albany Green Team was born.
Now 10 and entering the fifth grade, Haydn said she began picking up litter on her walk to school because she had learned manmade waste could cause animals to suffocate and create water toxicity.
Anywhere from 15 to 40 people attend the Green Team cleanups, Mercer said, although the adults let the children lead the effort.
New Albany city officials provide vests, gloves and tools, and work typically takes one to two hours.
"We get in, and we get dirty," Mercer said.
Depending on the weather, the Green Team will go out once or twice per month.
"It's a good time to spend time with each other," Haydn said.
New Albany administrative assistant Bernadette Macchi works with the group to coordinate pickup locations.
Macchi said the group primarily works behind the New Albany branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Other sites include the wooded area between Tim Hortons and the New Albany Early Learning Center (formerly the New Albany K-1 building) and Swickard Woods.
The Green Team also cleans before and after local events, Macchi said.
"They're fabulous," she said.
Information about the New Albany Green Team is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by searching for the group on Instagram or Facebook.