Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Cape community working toward a cleaner city

Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Morgan Proffer, the founder of the Cape Cleanup organization, poses for a photo in front of the Mississippi River.
Photo by Kora Siebert

Plastic bags floating down sidewalks like tumbleweeds or crushed Styrofoam cups littered across parking lots have become a common sight across Cape Girardeau, dampening the livelihood of public spaces.

An article by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) stated Missouri produces more than 25 million pounds of trash in one day, with the average person generating 4.3 pounds of trash per day. With a population of 39,820 in the City of Cape Girardeau, as listed by The United States Census Bureau, this is approximately 171,226 pounds of trash produced a day in the city of Cape Girardeau.

Not all of this trash ends up in a landfill, though. The City of Cape Girardeau offers the Adopt-A-Street Program to help combat the littering problem. The City of Cape Girardeau stated residents can submit an application to adopt a street and inform the Adopt-A-Street organization of the date of their trash pickup, and they will provide the bags and dispose of them when the residents are done.

Many SEMO organizations participate in Adopt-A-Street. Phi Delta Theta is one organization on campus that regularly helps clean up streets in town through Adopt-A-Street. Phi Delta Theta members clean up a section on North Kingshighway Street multiple times per semester as a way to give back to the community.

Junior business management major and Phi Delta Theta’s philanthropy chair Colby Koester has participated in multiple clean up days.

“It’s a great experience,” Koester said. “I wish more areas in Cape had that because there’s a lot of other parts of Cape that are pretty dirty and don’t get picked up.”

In addition to the Cape Girardeau Adopt-A-Street Program, there are also other organizations working to clean up the city.

SEMO is making efforts to be more eco-friendly through SEMO Dining. SEMO Dining’s website stated in its sustainability plan they are implementing the “Skip the Straw Campaign.” The website stated 19 million pounds of plastic ends up in oceans yearly, and they are now making plastic straws available only upon request, as well as using eco-friendly and compostable containers and utensils in the dining halls.

In addition to SEMO Dining, student organizations are also working to make the campus more eco-friendly.

Sophomore environmental science communications and policy major Addyson Kimberlin is the president of the Sustainability Club at SEMO. She said the club’s main goal is to educate the community and bring everyone together to learn about the topic of sustainability.

The club participates in many events and activities, Kimberlin said, including trash pick-ups around town and campus. Kimberlin said the club has done pickup meetings in Capaha Park, as well as around Kent Library, Myers and Merrick Residence Halls, and Academic Hall.

Kimberlin said it can be hard to live a sustainable lifestyle on campus because SEMO doesn’t provide the same resources they used to. There are no recycling bins in the dorms, so if students want to recycle anything, they have to take it off campus to a local recycling center, she said.

“I think it’s really important for students to educate themselves about sustainability and environmental impact,” Kimberlin said.

Morgan Proffer, a resident of Cape Girardeau, is the founder of the Cape Cleanup Organization. Proffer said she started the organization last year on her mother’s birthday in honor of her mother who had passed away a few years prior.

“She really liked nature, and she taught me how to love and appreciate that, so I did it in her honor,” Proffer said.

Cape Cleanup is now moving to monthly cleanup days on the first Sunday of each month, Proffer said, and everyone is welcome to attend. The cleanup days will focus on Cape’s River Walk, parks, walking trails and the downtown area.

“It’s a good way to bring the community together,” Proffer said. “I know there’s a lot of different types of people in our community, and it is just a good way to appreciate the town that you live in.”

More information about the Cape Cleanup Organization and their monthly cleanup meetings can be found on their organization’s Facebook page.