The Conservation Commission works on several environmental projects in the North Haven community aimed at educating people and raising awareness. It usually has a large exposition around springtime, but it was necessary to cancel the event this year and last due to the ongoing pandemic. Instead, the commission decided to organize a townwide cleanup, which turned out to be a tremendous success.
In recognition of Earth Day, various North Haven-based groups participated in the April 17 cleanup, almost 70 individuals in total. This included the Conservation Commission, North Haven Trail Association, the Peter’s Rock Association, North Haven High School Key Club, North Haven Land Trust, North Haven Garden Club and North Haven cheerleaders.
Volunteers were given trash bags and directions to specific locations such as parks, soccer and baseball fields, nature trails, and many other areas throughout North Haven. It was hard to gauge the aggregated total of trash bags collected, but the amounts that came from just one location were eye-opening.
“I know there were several different areas people did. We had about four large garbage bags — a super-duper one and three extra-large ones — and that’s just from the area we cleaned up at the soccer field (behind the Stop & Shop),” said Cindy Golia, of the North Haven Garden Club. “We had people going to Todd’s Pond, the library, the square where town hall and the police station are, parks and rec., that whole area.”
For North Haven Conservation Commission member Fran Notaro, the situation was similar in her cleanup spot.
“We had a whole dumpster filled with trash,” said Notaro.“We had like 67 people participating (in the entire cleanup) and that’s not a large number, but they did yeoman’s work gathering litter in all the fields and parks across town. It’s just amazing what 67 people can accomplish.”
As expected, the cleanup collected a vast array of trash varying in shape and size, but certain items were more prevalent. The most recurring pieces of litter collected included plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and facemasks.
“There were a lot of facemasks, bottles, cups, tops, because it (Golia’s cleanup location) was a soccer field. A lot of food and candy wrappers, things like that,” Golia recalled. “There was a lot of Styrofoam we found discarded. I don’t know if they blew out of the trash containers, but there were quite a few pieces. Lots of plastic and cigarette butts too, which is gross.”
Notaro reported similar trash types being abundant at her location, and said some people take advantage of the town’s more secluded trails to dispose of larger items.
“There was bigger trash on some of the trails too because people think when you go to an area where it’s a little desolate, with parking, it’s a fine place for them to dump trash from their house,” Notaro said. “We had lots of minis — those little bottles of liquor – fast food litter, because North Haven has a lot of fast food places on Washington Avenue. That was all in the parks, fields, and trails. Cigarette butts were all over the place, facemasks, containers, water bottles. All kinds of stuff.”
Those who organized and participated in the cleanup said they feel these types of events help bring people together, and show their strong sense of civic pride.