2018-08-23 / Opinion

Working Together

To the Editor:

Thousands of local volunteers are helping Save the Bay, Clean Ocean Access and many other groups to remove plastic waste they find on our beaches or in the sea. As fantastic as their efforts are, we need better help from all businesses and governments to pick up trash in their immediate neighborhoods to prevent plastic trash from getting to our beaches in the first place.

When walking anywhere on Aquidneck island or neighboring communities, I come prepared to pick up plastic trash wherever I find it. That includes walking in a parking lot from my car to a store.

When driving, it is too dangerous to stop alongside the road side to remove trash. I have done it, however, because I hate seeing plastic sitting on our storm drain grates waiting to enter the downstream flow to the sea. But our town employees, supported by our tax dollars have teams and the resources to make this happen. You can get creative and clever with teams of employees as well like working to organize youth / church / retired / school groups to help support them to do the work. We – the townships – own the traffic cones, Hi-Vis vests, trash removal resources that can be used to safely clean a roadside. All our police departments can assist with traffic protection as well. Every roadway in our county needs this hands on approach to remove trash before it makes its way to the sea, much more frequently than is happening now.

Lawn mowing teams along the roadside, on sports fields, playgrounds, cemeteries should be told / taught to first WALK the area you are going to mow to remove the trash items and not simply run over them! Or STOP your mower – get off the mower, remove the trash before continuing! If they proceed to mow over trash that only serves to break it into smaller pieces making it more difficult for us volunteer trash-picker-uppers to come through and pick up after you!

So for our town employees, make it mandatory to pick up the trash first and NOT mow over it!

Garbage collection units at all our stores, those big dumpsters, are always a plastic waste haven for what blows out, falls out and never seems to get swept up. It should be a requirement of each township to expect businesses to comply with clean community standards and then we the community should police these areas. It should be a daily task for one or rotating employees to sweep those areas to keep them clean.

We can give merit badges of honor to the businesses that have the cleanest alleyway, dumpster area or parking lot.

Many governments, business and individuals world-wide have signed the pledge at cleanseas.org to take action, support wise waste management and stop the use of one use plastic. We need more in Newport County to get on board with this.

How can we accomplish this together?

Susan Adie

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