2012-04-19 / News

Earth Day cleanup Saturday

BY TIM RIEL

Earth Day is Sunday, which for Jamestowners means the Conservation Commission is looking for volunteers to help clean up the shorelines around the island.

The annual Island Shoreline Cleanup will take place Saturday, April 21. Patrick Driscoll, a Conservation Commission member who has taken charge of organizing the cleanup for nearly a decade, will orchestrate this year’s affair with fellow commissioner Michael Brown. The team is hoping that island youngsters can join the usual suspects that help keep Conanicut Island the gem that it is.

“It takes the big hands to lead the small hands,” said Driscoll. “Kids don’t want to do it by themselves. They don’t want to spend a weekend cleaning up after people. It’s the job of the adults and parents to say to the children, ‘Guess what we’re doing Saturday?’”

Driscoll said that his mother was a conservationist, and he remembers spending summer and spring days picking up trash. “I’ve learned that if you are forced help keep the earth clean as an child, you don’t litter as an adult.”

Usually the cleanup attracts about 100 volunteers, and Driscoll is hoping they can at least match that number Saturday. The spots that will be targeted include East Ferry, Potter’s Cove, Head’s Beach, Fort Getty, Mackerel Cove, Hull Cove, Sheffield Cove and West Ferry.

About 4,000 pounds of trash is collected each year, but that number can be misleading. Driscoll said that Jamestown gets tidier with each passing cleanup, but the reason the poundage is relatively the same is because the group finds smaller pieces of debris that may have been there two or three years ago.

“Each year we search a little harder and dig a little deeper. It’s not like the Sisyphus task,” he said, referring to Greek mythology where a king was punished by having to roll a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and repeat the action forever. “And he was immortal, so it wasn’t a very good job.”

Driscoll said that it’s a common misconception that plastic just stays at its current state forever. He added that plastic actually breaks down into smaller pieces as time passes, and it never goes away. So a six-pack ring, for example, isn’t as easy to pick up if it has been sitting on a beach for a while – it’s no longer a solid piece that’s easy to spot.

“Then birds eat it, and little fish eat it, and bigger fish eat the little fish,” said Driscoll.

Islanders interested in helping keep the island clean should meet at the recreation center at 8:30 a.m. There will be muffins and coffee. At noon, lunch will be served. Everyone should dress appropriately and bring gloves. People with pickup trucks are asked to bring them to help transport the bags of garbage.

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