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  • Writer's pictureAccokeek Foundation

Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling Our Way to a Cleaner Potomac.

Serving as a source of drinking water for more than five million residence and as a home to a plethora of local plants and animals, the Potomac River is essential to healthy, happy living in the Chesapeake Bay region. After years of work to protect this vital river, the Potomac finally saw a significant improvement in 2016. Pollution levels decreased and fisheries were rejuvenated. However, the fight is not over. In order to continue supporting the river all Washingtonians love, conservation actions must continue.

You can continue the efforts of preserving the Potomac with one simple change–use less plastic. Plastic pollution causes habitat destruction, drinking water contamination, and ruination of the landscape. By reducing your use of plastic, you reduce the chance that those objects will land in the Potomac River. Here are a few simple ways you can do this:

Say “No” to Straws: When ordering drinks at a restaurant, ask them to be served sans straw. If you prefer to enjoy your beverages through a straw, purchase a glass or stainless steel straw and bring it with you!

Paper Not Plastic: Opt for paper bags at the checkout line if your grocery store offers them. Take it one step further and bring your own reusable bags. Some grocery stores even offer a discount for this!

Shop Smart: When shopping for household products, toiletries, and groceries, avoid buying things packaged in plastic wrap or plastic bottles. Buy a laundry detergent packed in a cardboard box rather than a plastic jug. Buy loose produce instead of those wrapped in plastic wrap. Buy bars of soap in cardboard boxes rather than plastic bottles of liquid body wash.

Use Reusable Cups and Bottles: Stop wasting money and plastic on water bottles. Buy a reusable water bottle or cup that you can refill over and over. You can also have this filled with your favorite caffeinated drink at your favorite coffee shop to eliminate the need for non-reusable cups.

Opt For Traditional Matches: Get rid of those disposable, plastic lighters. Stock up on wood matches instead!

Up-Cycle: Get your creative juices flowing by transforming your plastic items into something new! Not only is it trendy, but it’s also cheap and fun. Check out this this tutorial on how to make a bird feeder out of a plastic bottle for inspiration.

Volunteer!: Donate your time and help clean up the Potomac River (or any river near you)! Reducing your plastic use is essential to conservation efforts, but removal of existing plastic pollution is also necessary.


This Saturday, the Accokeek Foundation will serve as a host site for 29th annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. Volunteers are needed to help remove trash and debris from the Potomac River shoreline. This is a great opportunity for families, service-learning students, as well as Boy/Girl Scout and other groups to learn about pollution while beautifying the river we all depend on!


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