Sun's out, trash bags out
After another long New England winter, birds are chirping, daffodils are blooming, the last of the snow has melted, and vast amounts of litter have once again become visible to the public. To get rid of accumulated trash, more than 400 Wareham residents are gathering on the weekend to collect the litter during the 5th Annual Don’t Trash Wareham town-wide clean-up.
“I am really excited for this cleanup, I am excited to see our town look nice. It is our home, it is where we live,” said Selectman and dedicated volunteer, Mary Bruce.
The town-wide clean up saw residents hit the streets with trash bags, gloves, and grabbers in tow. Teams of volunteers including firefighters, a Cub Scout Pack, Girl Scout Troops, the “Selectmen Sweepers,” the Wareham Historical Society, and many more worked together to declutter the town’s streets and beaches.
Don’t Trash Wareham is dedicated to litter and debris removal, encouraging residents to take pride in the town and keep it clean. In 2015, after the volunteers gathered 4,600 cigarette butts on the town’s beaches, the Board of Health voted to ban smoking on public beaches or recreational areas around Wareham and Onset.
One of the group's founders, Nora Bicki, said the annual clean-up has attracted more volunteers over the years. While teams are encouraged to register with Don’t Trash Wareham, anyone is welcome to head out with a trash bag in hand to help pitch in.
“We have individuals, families, friends, and organizations helping us,” said Bicki. “Participants can choose the day, time, and place most convenient for them to join. We have participants from every section of the town.”
In the past, volunteers picked up pounds of coffee cups, thousands of used lottery tickets, needles, underwear, vehicle parts, and even a toilet. However, nip bottles remain the most commonly found items on roadside verges.
Nips, which typically hold 50 milliliters of hard liquor, are a go-to alcoholic drink for those who drink and drive. There are two reasons for this: the bottles are compact and easy to conceal in a purse or car, helping these drivers avoid a charge of driving with an open container of alcohol if they are stopped by police. The driver will often throw the bottle out the window after finishing the drink. Walkers also discard nips this way, littering the streets with sharp glass and crushed plastic.
Selectmen Alan Slavin, who has been a Wareham resident for over 20 years, said littering has always been prominent in the town. To address the problem, Slavin says the state of Massachusetts must either impose a 5-cent deposit on the nip bottles or ban their sale altogether.
“If Wareham were to pass a [nip bottle] ban and other towns don’t, the trash is still going to be here, it is not going to solve the issue,” Slavin said. “Same thing with the plastic bags and food wrappers.”