Sustainable Grandview: Volunteers clean up litter from Scioto Bike Trail

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Volunteer RaeAnna Weiland carries trash to a drop zone during a Scioto Bike Trail cleanup event April 10, hosted by Sustainable Grandview.

A group of 28 volunteers picked up enough litter to fill 50 trash bags April 10 during a little pickup event hosted by the nonprofit Sustainable Grandview.

The volunteers met at the Scioto Bike Trail entrance on Grandview Avenue, near Interstate 670 and just south of the Sunoco gas station.

"The trail entrance is right by the exit ramp from 670, and a lot of people just toss trash out their window as they drive by," said Brian Will, one of the local residents who serves as an organizer for Sustainable Grandview.

People might be surprised at how much trash collects along the bike trail, Sustainable Grandview organizer Andy Leber said.

"As you bike or jog along the trail, you probably don't notice it," he said.

The refuse collected April 10 included lots of paper trash, containers and bags from fast-food restaurants, cans and bottles, bottle tops and car parts, Will said.

"The car parts are pushed into the bushes and left there after car accidents occur on the ramp," he said.

Larger items also were collected, Sustainable Grandview organizer Jeff Reynolds said.

Reynolds found a residential air-conditioning unit.

"The copper had been stripped from it, but it was still pretty heavy," he said.

Sustainable Grandview arranged for representatives from Keep Columbus Beautiful to pick up the collected refuse April 12, Will said.

"We'll recycle as much of it as possible," he said.

Luke Wessel, 9, and Shelly Wessel volunteer during the Scioto Bike Trail cleanup event April 10.

Although Sustainable Grandview was formed in 2019, the group's efforts picked up steam in late 2019 after new residents joined and took on leadership roles, Reynolds said.

"Our efforts had kind of waned at that point, although we still had a Facebook page going," he said.

Since then, the group has become more active, looking to organize such events as litter pickups to complement its effort to provide education and resources to the community, Reynolds said.

"We're a community-action organization that is focused on realizing a cleaner, healthier, more resilient Grandview Heights," Leber said.

The group held litter pickup events before the pandemic hit, and activities have slowed due to COVID-19 restrictions, he said.

"We've held some virtual meetings, but we're hoping to begin to meet more regularly as the COVID conditions improve and more people are vaccinated," Leber said.

As part of its educational mission, Sustainable Grandview has held online webinars, including sessions about food waste, PACE (property-assessed clean energy) financing and residential solar panels, he said.

"We're also involved in encouraging local government to think about good environmental practices," Reynolds said. "For example, Grandview is planning to build a new fire station (and municipal complex), and we'd like them to include green building standards as they plan that project."

More information about Sustainable Grandview is available at sustainablegrandview.org and facebook.com/sustainablegrandview, Leber said. The group's email address is sustainablegrandview@gmail.com.

The April 10 event included volunteers from other groups, including the Columbus chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby and the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed and students from Grandview Heights High School's Environmental Club.

The club was formed in 2019, said GHHS science teacher RaeAnna Wieland.

"It's a student-driven club," she said. "Students who wanted to form an environmental club asked me to be their adviser, but they plan the club's events and activities."

Senior Eric Yeager serves as club president and was one of the students who founded the group.

"For me, going into my junior year, I wanted to do something that related to my interest in environmental science and helping my community become more sustainable," he said.

The environment is on high school students' minds, Yeager said. 

"Unfortunately, my generation has been left with a pretty big problem to solve relating to environmental issues," he said. 

The club still is in its early stages, and its development has been slowed by the pandemic year, when students have spent much of their time out of the school building, Yeager said.

"My interest right now is helping with the transition so the club can continue and grow stronger next year," he said.

One project the club coordinated was the creation of posters to encourage and educate students about what items can and cannot be recycled, Yeager said.

"We got a great response from teachers when we asked them to put the posters up near the trash cans and recycling cans in their classrooms," he said.

Junior Olivia Leggans said she expects the club's activities to pick up next year as school begins to return closer to normal.

"I like to see us set up some sort of donation center at school to collect items for companies that do designated types of recycling, like shampoo bottles," she said.

Leggans participated in the April 10 litter pickup event. The amount of trash that had amassed along the Scioto Bike Trail was dismaying, she said.

The turnout of volunteers, however, was encouraging and effective, Leggans said.

"It was just great to see so many people from other organizations and from outside our community who come out to help," she said.

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