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Students Share Outreach and Eco-Friendly Car Wash Solution(s) in their Community

2011 Alexandria, Virginia, USA
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When visiting Holmes Run and collecting water quality data, seventh grade science students at Francis Hammond 1 Middle School were concerned that there was foam and trash coming directly out of a drainage pipe into a streamside marsh. After analyzing potential pollution sources, they decided they wanted to address contaminants running off residential streets into the storm drain system.
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Their solution was to educate the public and persuade them to use more eco-friendly products and behaviors by making phosphate-free car wash “soap” contained in re-used water bottles and distributing it to local residents. Their outreach emphasized that the best way to wash cars is at a car wash facility, where water is recycled and doesn’t reach the stormwater system, but that if washing the car at home, it is important to use phosphate-free soap and ideal to wash over soil/grass rather than pavement. A companion project from another class produced a short infomercial they hoped to air on Alexandria City Public Schools TV and/or on a website.

Reflecting the fact that students had leveraged the re-use of bottles and paper, the project budget only required the purchase of Castile soap ($47), for which Nutrien provided funding. Finalists in the Caring for Our Watersheds competition, Hammond 1 students presented their project, “License to Clean,” at the Earth Force Youth Summit at Marymount University.