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

2011 Alexandria, Virginia, USA
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.
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.