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Owens psychology student launches Project Clean Toledo to clean up littering

Shayna Krasula is testing a hypothesis that garbage-ridden areas attract more garbage and that by frequently cleaning them, it will deter future littering.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A Owens Community College psychology student is pairing her studies with cleaning up the city. Shayna Krasula is starting Project Clean Toledo to clear neighborhoods of trash and litter.

Bags, bottles and blight line the sidewalk on Broadway across from Danny Thomas Park in south Toledo. It's a sight Krasula, who lives nearby, is tired of seeing.

"I don't like seeing trash in areas, and I was raised knowing that litter isn't acceptable. And litter isn't acceptable. It doesn't look good and doesn't feel good and needs to be picked up," Krasula said.

Project Clean Toledo is part of her honors classwork, combining her focus with civic engagement. With input from the community, she'll clean up different spots every week. 

Studying psychology, she has a hypothesis that garbage attracts garbage; so, if you clean trash-filled areas frequently, people won't litter there anymore.

"You're walking in an area with no garbage and you're holding a cup," Krasula proposed, "you're not going to throw that cup down as easily as if there were 50 cups there already."

Krasula says littering is a problem that affects everyone in the city and she's not the only one that believes that. 

Steve Salander started Be the Solution Lucas County last year to clean up PPE from parking lots and sidewalks after the pandemic started. He's continued to help beatify areas and says it makes an impact.

"It shows that we care about our cities," Salander said. "It shows we care about our neighborhoods. It shows that we're a community and we have pride in where we live."

Krasula plans to continue the project even after school. She hopes her example inspires others to join her.

"I think this is kind of like a pay-it-forward kind of effect. If one person steps up and does it, I think that more people will be willing to come and clean up garbage as well because we all live here," said Krasula.

She is planning her first cleanup Sunday, Oct. 24 at 4:00 p.m. at Broadway and Stebbins Street in south Toledo.

If you have a location you'd like to see cleaned or want to help clean, email projectcleantoledo@gmail.com.