Cleaning Up...One Spot at a Time
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Cleaning Up...One Spot at a Time

The Adopt-a-Spot program flourishes in Reston.

For three years, a different kind of adoption has been going on in Reston.

Tot lots, areas along the paths, bus stops, parks and open spaces are being adopted to prevent littering and encourage local cleanup activities in the name of Reston Association’s Adopt-a-Spot program.

Originally a project of the Clean Fairfax Council, the Adopt-a-Spot idea was brought to Reston by Mark Moody, a member of the council’s board.

“We modified it a bit to suit the needs in Reston,” said Moody, a Reston resident and self-proclaimed pragmatic environmentalist. “The purpose is to enlist folks to adopt certain areas of Reston. On a quarterly basis, they rid that area of litter and then let us know about it.”

Individuals, organizations and businesses are eligible to adopt an area and keep it cleared of litter. In return, RA helps the volunteers by donating materials for cleanups, and a sign with their name that is posted in the adopted area.

Gary Nobles, a Reston resident, has tried recently to generate more awareness about the program, hoping that more people will sign up.

First, Nobles said, it’s free. But more importantly it gets people thinking about litter, said Nobles.

“You can adopt anything from a small bus stop to an area as large as a football field,” said Nobles, who Moody credits with boosting support for the program. “Gary makes this happen,” said Moody.

The effort has also been embraced by the Reston Association, said Ha Brock, RA’s volunteer coordinator, who runs the program. “I think it’s a great program,” said Brock.

WHILE THE PROGRAM has helped nearly 100 sites stay clean, Moody and Brock first noticed that people in Reston have always been litter conscious.

“A lot of residents were unofficially doing it already,” Brock said.

As more and more people take part in the program, Brock said, RA can better track the community’s effort against litter and then target areas that need more support. “The program is open to everybody who wants to help keep Reston beautiful,” said Brock.

But the program can also help RA with more than just litter. “[Participants in the program] will call us if there’s a tree branch that fell or if something else is wrong with the spot,” said Brock, who added that the program has gained a lot of support from the business community as well.

In the near future, Moody is hoping that local schools will get involved.

“I think that’s the starting point for the environment,” said Moody, who has given hundreds of talks to elementary school students about litter prevention and recycling. “We want to do what we can to help teachers include [environmental education] in their curriculum. We can start by trying to get parents, teachers and students to adopt the area near their schools.”