Students filled 75 black garbage bags with bottles, cans, boxes and cigarette butts that once littered Foggy Bottom Saturday during a joint effort with residents to clean up the neighborhood.
About 150 students, about twice as many as last year, and a handful of local residents gathered at St. Mary’s Court on 24th Street for the Foggy Bottom Clean-Up, sponsored by the Student Association, Residence Hall Association and Domino’s Pizza. Students divided into teams to pick up garbage on sidewalks, streets and parks on 19th, 26th, E and M streets, SA Vice President of Community Affairs Alice Lingo said.
“Part of this is getting into Foggy Bottom, not just GW, to go where both students and (residents) live,” Lingo said.
The event was previously held in the spring, she said, but it will be held once each semester this year.
Students involved said they picked up all kinds of garbage, including beer bottles, pizza boxes, newspapers and parking tickets.
“People leave really weird stuff around,” junior Laura Devereux said.
Junior Marisa Stroud agreed. She said she found a KFC fast food box and was sure there is no Kentucky Fried Chicken location in the area. Students said they were also surprised at the amount of trash.
“How much trash people leave around is unreal,” junior Manish Bhatt said.
Students also picked up scores of cigarette butts, plastic wrappers from cigarettes boxes and cartons.
“People smoke so much here,” Devereux said.
“I could make a collage with all the cigarette butts I picked up,” sophomore Klarisse Mathis said.
Students wore plastic gloves or wrapped their hands in plastic bags to pick up the trash, but said they still got a little dirty.
“I’m looking forward to washing my hands,” Bhatt said.
Organizers and community leaders agreed the cleanup was beneficial and would improve relations between students and the community.
“”It’s a great opportunity for students to get to know their neighbors,” said first-year graduate student and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Jeff Marootian. “I hope that they went away from doing this one day to doing it every day.”
SA President Roger Kapoor, who participated in the cleanup, agreed.
“We’re all members of the Foggy Bottom community, so we need to realize that we need to take responsibility for the neighborhood not just today but everyday,” Kapoor said.
Lingo said the event would bring students and residents closer.
“Any time students and residents get together, it gives them time to realize that we have so much in common, even though there’s a large age gap and we have different lifestyles,” Lingo said before the event. “We have more in common than we don’t. I think students will get a kick out of that.”
RHA President Noel Frame said the cleanup was also a way for the SA and RHA to cooperate.
“The SA and RHA have clashed in past years, but this year we are trying to stop that, and we’ve done well so far,” she said.
Lingo said community residents had contacted her about specific garbage problem areas. She said some of the litter was caused by students, and she wanted to make sure the areas were cleaned.
But despite garbage problems caused by students, former Foggy Bottom Association President Ellie Becker said she did not think students generated the majority of trash around the neighborhood.
“There are places occasionally where students are not as tidy, but I’m not sure it’s all them,” she said. “A lot of it is just people being careless as they walk along.”
Becker said she thought the cleanup could bring students closer to each other as well as letting students get to know neighborhood residents.
“I think it’s a nice mixer,” she said. “I’ve always believed that you get to know people better when you are doing something rather than just standing around and having a Coke. When you’re accomplishing something, it’s easier to make friends that way.”