Discarded masks. Spilled ice cream. And “a ton of cigarette butts.”
Those were among the items Erica Thieleman and Rachel Sorensen picked up from downtown Evanston streets and sidewalks on Friday morning.
The two volunteers were among 40 who fanned out with trash bags, pickup sticks (not the old children’s game, but rather the pole with grabbers attached to snatch garbage from the ground) and a willingness to brave less-than-idea weather, in an Earth Day event sponsored by the Downtown Evanston marketing organization.
“People in Evanston are vey environmentally focused,” said DE’s Laura Brown.
Plus, Brown said, an event in this part of Evanston “treats downtown as a neighborhood” where people live, and not just work or shop.
Downtown Evanston had its first such spring cleanup in 2019. COVID forced cancellation of the events in 2020 and 2021.
Evanston police officer Brian Rust was among the volunteers. Rust, whose regular duties include a 1st Ward (downtown) beat, said he came out to support Downtown Evanston and those trying to make the city cleaner.
Several organizations also chipped in, including Sherman Plaza, the Northwestern University Sustainability Committee of student government, and the Miseracordia Catholic social services agency.
The total haul was 180 pounds of trash. Brown said the largest amount from a single group (Sherman Plaza and Northwestern) was 25 pounds.
That highest amount means a $50 downtown gift card. Whatever the winners buy, it’s a good bet they won’t drop any paper on the ground.
There will be a similar spring cleanup in the Main-Dempster Mile area on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.