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Enviromental Group Pushes For A Plastic Free Potomac

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The D.C. chapter of the Surfrider Foundation hosts monthly Potomac River cleanups.
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The D.C. chapter of the Surfrider Foundation hosts monthly Potomac River cleanups.

By Cathy Carter

A trash free Potomac River may seem impossible, but one environmental group says it can be done one piece of plastic at a time.

Julie Lawson is walking down a stone path to Fletcher's Boathouse in the District. When she reaches the dock, she grabs a canoe and paddles to a bank on the Potomac that's hard to get to by foot.

"There's a lot of areas of the river that don't have trail access to them and in order to really get that trash out from under the rocks and behind the trees and things you really need a boat to get to it," says Lawson.

Lawson is with the D.C. Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. They host river cleanups once a month. A recent outing turned up some car parts and household appliances, but Lawson says the biggest problem is plastic bags.

That's why the group lobbied in support of D.C.'s five cent bag tax and they're hoping a bottle bill is next.

"You can't throw something away and it just disappears. It has to go somewhere, and if we can reduce how much we're using, we can reduce how much escapes," she says.

Lawson says a plastic bottle floating in the Potomac today will reach the Atlantic ocean in a year or two.

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