Kids help out as environmental group cleans trash out of the Allegheny River
Elliott Covolo, 8, spotted the first piece of litter that was collected out of the Allegheny River in Tarentum during a cleanup event Sunday.
He grabbed a net and waited until the boat idled next to the object.
“I don’t know what it is,” he exclaimed as he pulled it aboard.
It turned out to be an old paint can, and just one of countless pieces of trash to be collected.
The event was held by the Allegheny CleanWays, a nonprofit environmental group fighting illegal dumping in Allegheny County that has been doing these types of cleanups since 2000. They’ve collected 5 million pounds of trash in just Allegheny County over the years.
“We love trash,” said Hannah Samuels, volunteer coordinator for Allegheny CleanWays. “We love to talk about trash (and) we love to cleanup trash.”
About a dozen people turned out for the cleanup including Allegheny CleanWays staff and board members as well as volunteers from the community.
Elliott’s parents, Sara and Nick Covolo, said it’s good to get out and see the area and make a difference in the process.
They wanted their kids to be part of it, too. They also brought their 6-year-old daughter Sadie. The family lives in West Deer.
“We thought it would be good to bring them along,” Sara Covolo said. “I think it’s important to clean up the environment.”
Longtime volunteer Gary Smith of Ross said he enjoys the people he gets to meet and work with. He also likes knowing he’s done his part to help reduce the plastics and litter in the environment.
“You’ve done something to make the world a better place to live,” he said.
Allegheny CleanWays Executive Director Myrna Newman said they are working this year to educate the public about just how much plastic is affecting the environment.
“Everything has been plastic,” she said as she looked around at the items collected Sunday.
Those included plastic bottles, bags and even a children’s plastic play slide.
Evan Clark, captain of the Rachel Carson boat the group uses to take volunteers out, said he estimates about 70% of the trash collected are single-use plastics that can’t be recycled, and that’s just what they are able to collect. He said they’re only able to get a fraction of the trash that flows down the river.
“It’s all about, for me, getting our volunteers out here and just seeing the problems that we have,” he said.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .