Story and photos by Judy Benson
Volunteers collected more than 35 pounds of trash on Aug. 16 at Sherwood Island State Park to launch this year’s #DontTrashLISound campaign.
“All that stuff shouldn’t be in the water,” said Lisa Jarosik, one of the more than 25 volunteers who participated in the cleanup, showing the bucketful of trash she picked off the beaches and lawns at the Westport park.
In it were flip-flops, tubes of lip balm, plastic cups, food wrappers and many other items, all of which could be carried into Long Island Sound by wind, rain and tides if left on the ground.
The campaign, led by the Connecticut and New York Sea Grant programs with support from the Long Island Sound Study, is encouraging people this year to #DoOneThing to help remove trash from the environment and reduce the number of throwaway items they use. It will run through International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 18.
Now in its fifth year, the campaign consists of cleanups in both states, social media posts and giveaways of “Protect Our Wildlife” stickers for reusable water bottles and travel mugs. Partners in this year’s campaign include Save the Sound and the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, which both brought groups of volunteers to the cleanup.
Among them was aquarium volunteer Dev Mehta, who came with his mother Palak and sister Arya from their home in Westport.
“We found a lot,” said Palak Mehta, showing their haul that included empty cognac and wine bottles, many bottle caps and plastic food containers. On data sheets provided by Save the Sound, the volunteers recorded each type of trash collected. The trash was also weighed.
Also helping clean the park that day were eight students from St. Joseph High School in Trumbull. Other youth came on their own, including friends Jillian Mastro, Nick Imbrogno and Amanda Schneider of Fairfield.
“We found a whole lot of stuff. Someone went to the bakery, and left all these empty boxes,” Mastro said, showing the cardboard containers at the top of her full bucket.
Marc and Jean-Pierre Montillier of Westport were among several members of the Y’s Men retiree group from Westport and Weston who walk the park regularly and decided to join the cleanup.
“We found a lot of stuff stuck in the rocks in the jetties,” said Jean-Pierre Montillier.
For information on cleanup events, visit: https://www.savethesound.org/2021cleanup/
An op-ed article about the campaign has been published in The Connecticut Mirror, The Day and eight Connecticut Hearst daily newspapers. It can be found here.
For information on the #DontTrashLISound campaign and how to obtain “Protect Our Wildlife” stickers, email CT Sea Grant Communications Coordinator Judy Benson at: firstname.lastname@example.org