Establishing a Plastic Waste Management Program

Staunton, Virginia

Featured image for the project, Establishing a Plastic Waste Management Program


The City of Staunton, VA and the surrounding community located in Augusta County plan to increase awareness about the importance of waste stream management, the complete flow of waste from domestic or industrial areas  to final disposal. The responsiveness to environmental impacts of single-use plastics on soil, water, and air quality is a major community priority, as well as the associated human health impacts. Community leaders, including the local Earth Day committee, have outlined 4 priorities:

  1. Organize a project targeted at local support of the reduction and elimination of single-use plastic straws and bags as a critical first step and model for other communities.
  2. Gain knowledge and understanding of the waste management in the community and its impact on the environment, locally and regionally (i.e. Chesapeake Bay water shed).
  3. Monitor and test levels of toxic pollutants and micro plastics throughout local waterways.
  4. Improve and educate the community about responsible waste management and its’ impact on the community and surrounding areas (stewardship).

About the Community

The City of Staunton, VA and the surrounding community located in Augusta County are the focus of this project description. Downtown Staunton is home to Mary Baldwin University. Staunton is also close to the University of Virginia, James Madison University, Washington & Lee University and Virginia Military Institute.

Staunton is consistently on many “top 20 small town” lists for culture, arts, architecture and preservation by such organizations as Smithsonian, Architectural Digest, Southern Living and several travel sites. It is a town noted for its beauty and its nationally recognized main street. Along with these recognition, the TEX community leaders would like to see Staunton appear on top lists of towns that are environmentally progressive and that practice sustainable lifestyles.


Community Leaders


Georgi Tomisato of EarthDay Staunton is a farm owner in Augusta county and active member of the City of Staunton.  She is a former educator, practicing farmer and community activist.




Fred Blanton, an involved resident of the City of Staunton, is an analyst with Boeing and a Sister Cities International Representative.

Scientist Wanted

Georgi and Fred are searching for a science partner to collaborate on the monitoring and assessment of various waste streams, to conduct a component life-cycle analysis, and to launch a community awareness and education campaign.

Science based:

  • Study of waste streams and their impact on the quality of water, soil and air in Staunton and surrounding rural areas.
  • The setup up of systems to monitor the quality of the environmental factors measured in the above study
  • An assessment of the remaining useful life of the current waste facilities (landfills) and the impact of waste reduction via recycling/ composting on the useful life


  • Development of curricula, training and materials for the entire community; K-12, young adult, families, seniors.
  • A presentation of the project and proposed study by scientist at EarthDay 2019 & 2020. An initial waste stream sample will occur in 2019 and monitoring changes through 2020.
  • A community-based survey on the single-use plastics utilized by local businesses.

Desired Skills and Expertise:

  • Be able to partner with local stakeholders on waste and water audits.
  • Train helpers to assist the scientists.
  • Educate kids in the classroom.
  • Long-term study vision
  • Ability to translate scientific knowledge to local officials and/or community members.
  • Experience and willingness to develop deliverables that meet the community needs and/or allow local solutions to be adapted by other communities.
  • Commitment to regular meeting to revisit progress and plan steps.
  • Ability to operate effectively in environments where science is not the only factor, and often not even the leading factor in decision making.
  • Public speaking skills.
  • Ability to bring student in to support this work.
  • Local or remotely located
  • Open to new ideas and able to respect diverse viewpoints and priorities.
  • Relaxed, easy-going personality with a good sense of humor.
  • Open to working in potentially politically-charged environments.
  • Strong listening skills.


The desired timeline would allow for initial scoping of priorities and plan to address them for Earth Day 2019 presentation and activities celebrated on April 13th and continuing through the 22nd. The remainder of 2019 and 2020 will be used to execute the components of the project.

Collaborating Organization(s)

RiverPickers Carol, David, Joe, Mark, Marion

The Friends of the Middle River (FOMR) was started in 2010 by a group of citizens who had been influenced and inspired by a conference in 2009, sponsored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  The organizers of FOMR felt that the community of residents who were interested in the welfare of the Middle River needed a collective voice. Since 2010, FOMR has sponsored activities to heighten awareness of the Middle River’s recreation opportunities as well as its water quality challenges.

Our mission: FOMR promotes the stewardship and enjoyment of the Middle River Watershed through volunteer action, education, science, and outreach.