We at Allegheny CleanWays often throw around numbers when talking about the work we do. We frequently state pounds (or tons) removed, miles of riverfront cleaned, and numbers of tires recycled. But what do those numbers really mean? How much is “a ton”? What does a thousand tires actually look like? And what, ultimately, is the result?
To help you visualize the numbers:
Since we started in 2000, we have removed 1,274.49 tons of debris from the empty lots, roadsides, riverbanks, streams, and wooded hillsides of Allegheny County. That’s roughly the weight of 182 male African elephants.
That tonnage includes 16,518 tires. Laid flat on the ground and touching each other (with an average diameter of 25 inches) that many tires would stretch 6.5 miles (roughly the distance from the 16th Street Bridge to the Highland Park Bridge exit on Rt. 28)! If stacked (with an average of 6 inch width), they would stretch just over 1.5 miles into the sky or the equivalent of 15 Cathedral of Learning buildings stacked on top of each other!!So far this year, we have removed 127 tons (about 18 elephants) and 2,536 tires (just over 2 Cathedral of Learning buildings high).
The numbers are impressive by themselves, but when you think of the work involved in the actual removal (e.g. digging tires out of mud, carrying heavy loads up steep hillsides, wrestling with water-logged carpets, cutting paths through knotweed and vines, bending over and over and over again to pick up litter including some pretty disgusting items like dirty diapers and bags full of dog waste), they become even more impressive. In all, our volunteers have donated 10,582 hours (almost 441 days) to help make Allegheny County more beautiful.
And the result? 226 acres of green space have been cleaned since 2010 alone (when we started keeping track of acres cleaned) and many thousands of people are enjoying cleaner neighborhoods, recreational areas, wooded green spaces, and water.