Cottonwood Tucson’s Sustainability Team Cleans Up The Roadway!

Cottonwood Tucson’s Sustainability Team cleans up Sweetwater Drive…

Returning to Cottonwood Tucson after cleaning up Sweetwater Drive are members of our Sustainability Team. From left to right: Charles Gillispie, Leslie Weichelt, Shellie Nikitenko, Wendy Burton Corrales and Joel Keller

Twice each year Cottonwood Tucson’s Sustainability Team organizes the cleanup of trash along Sweetwater Drive as part of the Pima County Adopt A Roadway Program. On our autumn cleanup day, October 27, 2013, the largest item picked up along the road was a large old-style television set. Typically the items removed are wires, boards, phone books, fast food containers, cigarette butts, and just general trash items – litter. But as Leslie Weichelt says: “It is always interesting to see what ‘trash’ we will find. So far we haven’t found anything of great monetary value, but Sweetwater Drive always looks so much better after the cleanup! It really feels good to see the difference the cleanup makes, and many of the passersby will give us a smile and a wave, a honk or a thank you when they see that we are cleaning up the roadway.”

Learning more about “Adopt a Roadway” programs

The concept of citizens or companies adopting a roadway to keep a section free of litter dates back to the mid 1980s.  It was James Evans who worked as an engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation who came up with the idea. According to the History Channel’s website:

‘Evans noticed litter blowing out of the back of a pickup truck he was driving behind in Tyler, Texas. Concerned about the growing cost to the government of keeping roadways clean, Evans soon began asking community groups to volunteer to pick up trash along sections of local highways they could “adopt.” Though Evans got no takers for his idea, Billy Black, the public information officer for the Tyler District of the Texas Department of Transportation, took up the cause and organized the first official Adopt-a-Highway program, which included training and equipment for volunteers. The first group to participate in the program was the Tyler Civitan Club, and on March 9, 1985, a sign was erected to indicate that the group had adopted a two-mile stretch along Texas’s Highway 69. Similar signs began popping up in the area as other groups volunteered to beautify their own stretches of highway. The program eventually spread to thousands of towns and cities across the U.S. and to such countries as Canada, Japan and New Zealand.’

In Pima County, where Cottonwood Tucson is located, each organization which adopts a roadway must commit to certain responsibilities:

  • Group supervisor must attend safety training prior to the first clean-up. 
  • Adhere to all Pima County Safety Rules and Regulations. 
  • Complete at least two clean-ups of entire adopted roadway per year. Schedule each clean-up two weeks prior to clean-up date. 
  • Obtain signatures of each participant on the Special Event Waiver Form prior to each clean-up and return the completed form to the AAR Coordinator. 
  • Obtain safety vests and trash bags at Pima County designated facility. 
  • Return safety vests and unused trash bags to Pima County designated facility within two working days after clean-up completion.

Our Sustainability Mission at work…

“The Sustainability Team of Cottonwood seeks to provide support and direction to ensure that the Cottonwood community lives in balance, harmony, and wholeness with the environment while utilizing best practices for economic responsibility.”
Our “Adopt a Roadway” is just one component of our sustainability commitment; a number of years ago we began a recycling program and we promote periodic “lunch and learn” events for our staff. Additionally, this year we applied for and received a small grant from the Pima Association of Governments (PAG). The PAG grant was made available to Pima County businesses for incentives to employees to use alternative methods of transportation to get to work. Alternatives include everything from working from home to walking to work and everything in between. There was the option to have monetary incentives or give away gifts. We chose to create the meal ticket give away with the $50 stipend at the end of the program. The money comes from The Regional Transportation Authority.

We at Cottonwood ultimately believe we can be, indeed must be responsible not only to the needs of our patients but to the community and world in which we live.

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