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The Monitor

The Student News Site of Marymount Manhattan College

The Monitor

The Student News Site of Marymount Manhattan College

The Monitor

RSO Sustain MMC Finds Out What’s Being Littered in Central Park

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This past weekend, over 200 cigarette butts and more were cleaned up in Central Park by one of Marymount Manhattan College’s registered student organizations (RSOs): Sustain MMC.


Sustain MMC is an RSO dedicated to facilitating a sustainable culture on campus, and holding the College accountable to its sustainability commitments through action and communication. This Sunday, February 18, Sustain MMC held its second Central Park Clean Up day. Despite the chilly weather, MMC students walked all the way from 96th Street to 86th Street on the East side of the Park, picking up litter on sidewalks, trails, and in the greenery. 


The students were equipped with gloves and bags; one for recycling and one for trash. By the end of the event, the bags had been filled with an array of items including masks, energy gels, plastic bottles, cigarette buts, lost gloves, coffee cups, and much more. The two most common items gathered were cigarette butts and the discarded parts of trail runner’s energy gels. 

Charlotte Black, a Politics and Human Rights major, and the Social Media Manager for Sustain MMC attended Sunday’s event. Black documented highlights from the event on the Sustain MMC Instagram to engage students who weren’t able to participate. Black, who is a runner, took notice of the sheer volume of energy gel litter found along the trails. 

“It doesn’t really make sense to litter in a place you run every day and enjoy for the view and the nature,” said Black, “but then you’re going to simultaneously degrade it every single day.” 

Black reported that the students cleared approximately 231 or more cigarettes in a post she made on the Sustain MMC Instagram. To the students involved, noting the types of litter and the amount of each is a valuable part of their experience cleaning up the Park. Abigail Abbot-White is an acting and environmental studies double major, and the Vice President of Sustain MMC. She shared that the intention behind the event had to do with more than just picking up garbage. 

“My goal with it is to clean up our community obviously, and also evaluate what’s being littered so we can try to avoid those items in our daily lives,” said Abbot-White, “I think we’re so accustomed to being frustrated with their being litter, but then we continue to use those products when we have the ability not to.” 

The majority of the items found by the students on Sunday’s clean-up went into their trash bags and not their recycling. This is because most of the litter they collected could be defined as single-use, a term that encompasses any item that cannot be recycled or reused in any way. A few examples of single-use items include plastic straws, coffee cups with plastic lids, plastic water bottles, and plastic take-out containers. Despite these items having a one-and-done use for humans, their existence does not end when their usefulness has expired. 

“I think it’s important to note that everything we consume is going to en

d up back into the environment in some way,” said Abbot-White, “so if we consume less, pollution will not be such a big issue, and everyone will benefit.” 

For students with direct involvement in Sustain MMC, it made sense to seek out an opportunity to clean up the Park, but not everyone who attended on Sunday had these same incentives. Grace Staples is majoring in international studies at MMC and was encouraged to come to the event by an involved Sustain MMC member. Despite not having previous personal connections to Sustain MMC, Staples expressed some of her reasons for participating in cleaning up the Park. 

“It’s important to think globally and act locally,” said Staples, “I am a citizen of New York and it’s not all about my comfort and what I want to do to have fun. It’s also about giving back to my community and at the end of the day, it’s not about me, right? We gotta keep this world as clean as we can because someone else is gonna inherit it one day.” 

Despite the cold weather and the tedious act of picking up trash, the students had positive takeaways from the experience. Clearly, since this was the second Central Park clean-up facilitated by Sustain MMC, it was a well-liked event. In fact, the Officers of Sustain MMC have expressed an interest in turning it into a monthly occurrence. 

“I feel like it’s the least I can do, and it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon walking through Central Park with some friends and having meaningful discussions about the environment,” said Black. 


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About the Contributor
Joanna Insco, Staff Writer
Joanna Insco is a junior at MMC majoring in Digital Journalism and minoring in Environmental Studies.

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