Spotlight: Graduate student works to clean D.C. streets

First-year graduate student Chasta Jones wears rubber gloves when she walks down D.C. streets. But this is not an attempt to begin a new fashion trend in town. Her gloves serve a purpose – to keep her hands clean as she picks up trash littering our capital’s streets.

“I want to act rather than complain,” Jones said.

Last year Jones, who also studied international affairs as a GW undergraduate student, discovered Nick Carter’s Oceans Campaign through a friend’s love for the Backstreet Boys. Carter founded the NCOC to promote education and protection for the environment, particularly oceans and marine wildlife.

“I’m not a fan of the (Backstreet Boys) music, I’m a fan of what they do,” Jones said.

Jones started a chapter of the NCOC in D.C. and has successfully promoted the club around the city. Recently, the Seaton Elementary School accepted an NCOC invitation to allow the National Aquarium in Baltimore to visit the school in early October. The mission is to teach K-6 students about the ocean and its inhabitants.

Jones said her main goal is to spark student and community interest at GW, so she can bring the NCOC and the American Oceans Campaign to the GW campus.

Actor and activist Ted Danson founded the AOC in 1987 to protect the quality of America’s coastal waters. The AOC advocates clean and safe water, with an emphasis on beach water quality protection and a pollution prevention. The AOC also monitors the annual fish census to promote safe fishing practices and marine fish conservation.

Jones hopes to garner enough interest on campus to begin an official GW student group. She needs five more people to join.
Jones said the AOC and NCOC focus on all facets of the environment, not just the oceans.

“We are not close to the ocean in D.C., but by keeping it clean here we can help the environment all together, including the oceans,” Jones said.

The Just Within Reach Foundation, an environmental awareness program formed by fellow Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson, manages the NCOC.

Both groups aim to cultivate public interest in improving the environment.

Jones said she hopes the fame of the founders of the NCOC and the AOC will spark interest among people who would otherwise would not give environmental issues any consideration.

Jones plans to kick off a neighborhood cleanup initiative in D.C., with her first cleanup Sept. 22. The NCOC will be on site at the 1300 block of M Street behind the Washington Plaza Hotel to clean up the streets.

After passing this area every day on her way to work, Jones said she found herself disgusted at the amount of trash littering the sidewalks. She realized that something had to be done and she wanted solve the problem herself.

Although Jones said GW does a good job keeping the campus clean, she said there is still room for improvement.

“Waste and recycle bins on campus are never side-by-side,” Jones said. ” Not many students will take the extra step to walk farther to separate their trash.”

Jones also said she hopes GW plans more trash pickup to compensate for the extra garbage produced by move-ins. She also plans to hand out pamphlets to students with tips on how to keep the environment clean.

Jones said her main obstacle is a lack of funding. It costs $210 to bring the National Aquarium in Baltimore to an elementary school. Another problem is that the NCOC is new to D.C. and to GW.

If Jones is able to raise enough support to make the group an official student organization, Jones will be able to hold meeting at the Marvin Center for free which will help her get the word out about the club.

Until then Jones is taking matters into her own hands. On Sept. 11, she is holding an informational meeting/dinner about the NCOC and the AOC at Bertucci’s Restaurant located in 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. shopping center

Once her clubs become student organizations, Jones wants to take environmental excursions to nearby beaches for ecology tours, beach clean up days and to research of the quality of the wildlife and water.

“By bringing these groups to campus we’ll not only be acting, but learning as well,” Jones said.

For more information, contact Jones at NCKaos@aol.com or (202) 789-3971.

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