“Let’s go, Mom,” my daughter said as she burst into my bedroom to wake me up. I was supposed to wake up at 8 but I mistakenly set it for 9 (wishful thinking?). I gulped down a cup of coffee and a slice of toast with egg salad. Off we went with 2 large cardboard boxes, clear trash bags, several pairs of gardening gloves, ties for the bags and paper towels. One of the people who responded to my daughter’s call for volunteers to pick up trash today, had already been at it for over an hour. Anthony, clad in his bright red jacket, greeted us with a cheery smile and shared one of his finds with us.
He said that a Town truck had pulled up and picked up all the bags of beer cartons and bottles he had already collected and bagged. This was not coincidental. Apparently someone who works for the Town saw my daughter’s posting last night and called Town Hall to tell them to get someone down to the trash site asap “to save face” I suspect. When my daughter and I arrived they were mostly leaning on their rakes, while Anthony worked. We grabbed our gloves and bags and each immediately “adopted” our own piece of the landscape along the road to start cleaning up.
There were layers of garbage. Pick up an embedded bottle and you’d find plastic beer can holders, paper plates, and other sorts of plastic wrappers. There were plenty of disintegrating foam pieces, too. Mostly degrading cups, but quite a few larger pieces of boat foam as well. Maybe from coolers?
At that point John, a friend of ours, arrived and jumped out of his truck and into the fray. Normally a quiet kind of guy, as he worked in the reeds, he fantasized out loud about how he’d like to hide in the bushes and attack the people who ate their lunches at harborside, probably in their cars, and threw their lunch trash onto the shoulder where we were working.
Then another volunteer arrived. Elina has a lot of experience with cleanups as a member of a local conservancy. She knew lots about which materials we were picking up could or no longer could be recycled. She, too, jumped right in with her bags and gloves which she had brought with her. A real garbage pro! I loved watching her walk through the reeds speaking English with her lovely French accent as she picked up trash.
Finally, our sixth volunteer,Emily, showed up towing her own garbage bag as well. Emily is a college student who saw our post and decided to help us out. She is tiny and thin, but before you knew it, she was dragging tires out of the reeds left along the shore of the wetlands. Emily is a superhero!
The six of us worked doggedly for a couple of hours and soon had most of the shoulder along the pond and the road cleaned up. We had to leave behind many bags of yard waste probably dumped there by landscapers either too lazy to go to the dump, or to cheap to pay the cost of dumping their waste. Clearly, illegal dumping is as big a problem as drinking and dumping in this part of town.
I admit it was a challenge for me. So much leaning over to pick up trash made me dizzy several times so I had to stop and take a short break each time it happened. But mostly it felt good to do something for the environment. Yes, this road is not owned by the local government. But nobody is doing anything about its upkeep and it is the gateway to our cherished harbor. Not only is it hideously ugly, it’s a statement about the people who live here and boat here. No one cares enough to do anything about it. Meanwhile all this plastic and disintegrating foam is leaching into the adjacent waters of the wetlands relentlessly rendering our waters more and more toxic.
The volunteers I worked beside today are my heroes. We were Four Feisty Women + 2 wonderful guys ranging in age from early 20s to early 70s. I’m sure we made a difference today and I hope more people will join us next time. Sadly, there’s enough trash around town to keep everyone busy for quite a while.
Before we began our cleanup:
After we completed our cleanup for today.