A new non-profit in Chattanooga wants all of us to get involved in keeping the Tennessee Valley litter-free while we're enjoying the outdoors, and there could be something in it for you besides a better environment.

Alyssandra Grizenko started Green Steps in July of 2017 after noticing a trend in our recreation areas.

"I was pretty disheartened by all the litter I saw. I have a background in public health, so I knew there were a lot of health hazards associated with litter, as well as environmental hazards," says Grizenko.

She and her husband moved to the Tennessee Valley from Colorado less than two years ago and fell in love with the area. Grizenko set out on a mission to get people to interact with nature and take care of spaces beyond their back yards.

"Our mission is to educate and enable the public and our communities to feel empowered and want to clean up litter for themselves," adds Grizenko.

Through crowd sourcing and donations from local businesses, she was able to set up seven clean up stations in Hamilton and Marion Counties, each costing $250: two on Suck Creek Road, one behind Earth Fare in Hixson, one at the end of Barker Camp Road in Soddy-Daisy, one at the rope swing site on Lake Resort Drive in Hixson, one in Marion County Park, and one at the Pot Point trail head in the Tennessee River Gorge.

As an incentive to get people involved, Grizenko devised a point system. Next time you're on a hike and you see a marked Green Steps clean up station, grab a bag out of it and pick up any trash you see. Then, throw into the nearby trash bin. Next, fill out a form which you'll find at the station and leave it there once completed. The more bags you fill and the more miles you walk, the more points you'll earn which could land you a prize. Most of them are gift cards/certificates to use a local businesses.

Grizenko says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Honestly, a lot of people don't even want prizes,' admits Grizenko. "They just want an area that has resources."

Another way to help is to volunteer for a Green Steps community clean up event. Several have been held across the area, usually every month.

Grizenko never thought she'd actually end up getting paid to pick up trash, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's my passion, it's my career, and one day I hope for it to be everywhere," says Grizenko.

Green Steps is organizing a community clean up event for this weekend, January 6 & 7 in the Sequatchie Mountain Road area.


Grizenko has been approved for three new clean up stations at the following locations in Chattanooga. They should be up and running by mid-January:

• MLK at Douglas Street
• MLK at Houston Street
• Frazier Avenue at the Walnut Street bridge

Her goal is to eventually have 50 set up across the immediate Chattanooga metro area.