Shoal Creek Conservancy planning cleanup event to remove shopping carts from creek

The Shoal Creek Conservancy is working on a special cleanup event for the 11-mile-long creek called the 2024 Shoal Creek Shopping Cart Corral.

This is not an average trash cleanup. This cleanup will focus on removing shopping carts left in and around the creek. The idea came to life after a study showed numerous unusual items in Austin's creeks in 2022.

"We were all expecting to see the usual suspects, you know, lots of single-use drink containers, fast food containers, but what we were not expecting to find out of that report was the very high number of shopping carts that were found in all of Austin's creeks," said Ivey Kaiser, Executive Director Of Shoal Creek Conservancy. 

The study found there were hundreds of unused shopping carts sitting in and around Austin's creeks. To tackle the unusual issue, the Shoal Creek Conservancy hosted its first ever Shopping Cart Corral in July 2023.

"The goal was just to get in the creek with as many volunteers as possible, cover the entire length of the 11-mile-long creek, and remove all the shopping carts that were in the creek. That first event last year collected 48 shopping carts in two hours in the creek," said Kaiser.

The conservancy is planning another shopping cart corral on July 27.

Kaiser says the reason it is happening in the middle of the summer is to do this when there is less water in the creek so they can clean up as much as possible.

"It proved that not only is this a problem that we'll continue to need to tackle. It's something that, you know, I think a lot of people just don't know about, and a lot of people don't see it when the trash and the shopping carts are buried down below street level in these creeks," she said.

Volunteers will be provided with all the supplies needed for the cleanup on the day of. 

As for what will happen to all those shopping carts collected, the plan is to recycle them.

"We have been reaching out to retailers across the watershed to try to find a contact person from each store, to be on site to remove those carts, or at least collect the carts that our volunteers remove to take them back to the appropriate retail location. That is a big goal of the event is to have a partnership with retailers in the area to reclaim these carts and be able to reuse them," said Kaiser.