By Suzanne Michaels
Abbey Carver hates illegal dumping and litter on the ground. She hates it so much, two years ago she began the effort to clean the desert in and around Las Cruces by picking up other people’s trash. She engaged friends and other community members to help with the weekly cleanups, encouraging them with the words “picking up trash is fun!” She created Cruceño Cleanup (firstname.lastname@example.org), and a local pizza restaurant – Roadrunner Pizza – started providing pizzas for her volunteers to support the cleanups.
On October 28th, 22-year-old Abbey was awarded the first ever “Citizen Action Award” for her efforts. She trekked to Deming to join the Illegal Dumping Partnership in presenting illegal dumping information to almost 70 attendees at the Boots on the Ground Illegal Dumping Conference.
Abbey does not work with any agency – she is simply a young NMSU student who sees something wrong and does what she can to make it better.
At the Conference Abbey presented the results of the Cruceño Cleanup efforts, and the Illegal Dumping Partnership awarded her the recycled blue glass Citizen Action Award to recognize her track record of environmentally friendly efforts. Abbey has documented picking up 25,400 pounds of trash and litter – that’s 1263 bags full – with more than 1,000 volunteers who chalked up 1,247 volunteer hours.
Assistant County Manager Chuck McMahon noted, “The Illegal Dumping Partnership does everything we can to curb and then clean up illegal dumping in Doña Ana County.” But it’s an expensive proposition to pick up trash people dump in the desert instead of taking it to the SCSWA Transfer Station or one of the County Collection Centers. Cleaning costs taxpayers about $1 per pound of trash picked up – compared to pennies per pound to throw it away properly.
Disposing of trash at the SCSWA Transfer Station or one of the 8 County Collection Centers only costs $5 plus tax ($5.20 total) for up to 200 pounds of trash. That’s 2.6 cents per pound.
McMahon added, “When we get a handle on illegal dumping, the dollars we spend now clearing illegal dump sites can go to many other causes – paving roads, more vector control – lots of issues.”
You can report illegal dumping by calling 877-No-Throw or download the free “NoThrow” app for Android or Apple smart phone. You can join the Cruceño Cleanup effort by contacting email@example.com.
The South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA) manages solid waste, recyclables, and fights illegal dumping for residents and businesses in the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County. You can reach the SCSWA at (575) 528-3800 or visit www.SCSWA.net