Priya Cook and her six-year-old son, Kiran, were paddling on the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., when they spotted something huge in the water. It wasn’t a fish. It wasn’t a turtle. It was … well, even after pulling it into their canoe, they weren’t exactly sure.
“It must have come off a boat or a car,” says Cook, who added the 15-pound hunk of junk to the collection of snack wrappers, golf balls, and other trash they’d gathered.
Her family was taking part in Anacostia Green Boats, a new initiative that invites folks to borrow canoes and clean up the river every Saturday. Since launching on Earth Day, it’s been enormously popular, says Portia Sampson-Knapp of Living Classrooms Foundation National Capitol Region, which runs the program with the city’s Department of Energy and Environment. Free reservations for the two-hour sessions fill up within minutes of being released online, and more than a thousand people have joined the mailing list.