By Alexandra Alpert
For The Diamondback

On April 10, University of Maryland students came together to celebrate bike week in the form of a riverside cleanup hosted by the university’s Sustainable Ocean Alliance and the Department of Transportation’s BikeUMD.

The university’s Sustainable Ocean Alliance is a student-run organization dedicated to ocean advocacy and conservation. The alliance hosts frequent cleanup events, engaging students in creating a cleaner campus.

“The ground pollution here is really, really bad,” Emily McCoy, executive member of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance social media, outreach and events and planning, said. “A lot of people, when they come here for the first time to clean up with us, they are like, ‘Wow! There is so much trash!’”

[UMD report gives Maryland a B- for coastal adaptation]

Studies show pollution in the United States has only increased in recent years; some students at this university are determined to help make a change.

During this five-mile maximum bike ride to the Indian Creek riverbank, students stopped along the trail to pick up trash. When they got to the riverbank, everyone worked together to clean up. Waste was split up into two bags, a bag for recycling and a bag for all other trash.

“I think it brings us together … We all see the litter around [the campus] and no one likes litter,” the junior environmental science and technology major said.

The environmental impact biking has is drastic; emissions are significantly lowered when people decide to bike rather than drive.

[Maryland lawmakers pass climate solutions bill]

BikeUMD focuses on physical and mental wellness through “free bike maintenance, covered bike and e-scooter parking, discounted equipment, classes on bike and e-scooter safety and group rides.” According to its university website, BikeUMD offers several resources around the campus to encourage biking.

“Biking is one of the easiest ways to reduce emissions when you’re just trying to get from one place to another. Especially when you are in a bikeable area like College Park,” said Cristina Czochanski, a senior environmental science and policy major and the president of the alliance.

“I think [this event] brings us together … It’s a way to meet new people and make new friends while doing something we all enjoy,” McCoy said.

The event took place during the month we celebrate the earth — April is “Earth Month.”

Freshman environmental science major Allen Yuan was one of the students to attend the event. After coming to his first Sustainable Ocean Alliance event, he found it was not only an excellent way to spend time outside but it was also a nice way to give back to the community.

“When I went to my first clean-up … It was really fulfilling,” Yuan said. “Sometimes, it’s not the easiest being an environmentalist, but this gives me an easy way.”