Shoreline cleanup crews bring global awareness to island level
Cigarette butts, water bottles, and candy wrappers were common litter picked up around the island.
Conservation Commissioner Tom Johnson, who served as coordinator of the annual environment friendly event, said about 100 volunteers gathered about a ton of litter.
Johnson directed the volunteer cleanup groups to Taylor Point, Mackerel Cove, Sheffield Cove, Hull Cove, Ft. Getty, and shoreline access points in the Jamestown Shores.
Johnson said he has been helping with the Earth Day shoreline cleanup since 2000. He pointed out that the amount of garbage picked up is less each year.
Recreation Director Matt Bolles remembered the early years of the shoreline cleanup, when volunteers collected abandoned boats, old engines, and tires.
"In the beginning, we got a lot of big stuff. Now it's just all the stinking garbage," Bolles said with a grin.
Conservation Commission Chairman Chris Powell also remembered the first annual cleanup in 1990. "We filled up the town square and used snow fences to hold it in," Powell said, adding that the amount of trash then was overwhelming.
Since Earth Day's inception on the national level in 1970, the Earth Day Network has grown to include over 12,000 organizations in 174 countries worldwide. According to EDN, Earth Day is the only global event celebrated every year simultaneously by more than half a billion people of all backgrounds, faiths, and nationalities.
Volunteer Trisha Evangelista and her daughter, Meryl, said they were happy to join the effort. "I've lived here for over 20 years, but I saw people cleaning up for the first time only last year. I thought it was a great idea and made it a point to mark it on the calendar to join in this year," Evangelista said.
Even though she was sick that morning, Meryl braved the brisk air to participate in the community service. After spending a couple of hours picking up cigarette butts, Evangelista jokingly added that she might write a letter to tobacco companies and suggest they make biodegradable filters.
Craig Amerigian and Spencer Potter grilled hotdogs and bratwurst with hot onions for the hungry crew of workers.
Amerigian and Potter represented the Conanicut Island Land Trust, which provided lunch for the event. Amerigan, a former Town Council president who has participated in the cleanup for over 10 years, said they had 100 or more sausages and hotdogs to serve.
State Representative Bruce Long (R-Jamestown, Middletown) served Del's lemonade to the thirsty throng of volunteers. He has been bringing Del's to Earth Day on Jamestown for four years and has had a lot of fun being part of the community, Long said. Despite the cold easterly wind, everyone gratefully gulped the refreshing drink.
Volunteer Brian Buck of Clinton Avenue had a successful trash-turned-treasure story to tell. Cleaning up has certainly paid off for him. When asked about bigticket items found, Buck replied, "The biggest for me was a fivedollar bill."