One Good Thing: Bethany Rid Litter Day gets community outside, cleaning roadsides of trash, discarded PPE amid pandemic

One Good Thing

BETHANY, Conn. (WTNH) — Bethany’s annual Rid Litter Day turns out dozens of volunteers to pick up bags and bags of trash along town roads each year. This weekend was no different.

Organizer John Pellicano told News 8, Rid Litter Day is an annual town-wide Spring cleanup event with the goal of picking up the excess of roadside trash in the town.

“It brings the community together because it’s a small community,” Pellicano explained. “It makes the town look much more appealing and gives the citizens a sense of civic-mindedness. And it’s something that’s safe to do with social-distancing practices.”

It is run and organized by volunteers from different organizations within the town including, the Lion’s Club, The Heart of Bethany, and Bethany’s Clark Memorial Library.

This year’s event drew around 70 volunteers donning reflective vests, garbage bags, trash pokers, and protective gloves over two weekends in April.

The event is scheduled around Earth Day, and this year additionally corresponded with former Vice President Joe Biden’s Day of Community Service.

According to Pellicano, more than 50% of the town’s roads were officially marked for needed cleanup based on the amount of trash visible. All of them were cleaned up by volunteers young and old, and plenty of families.

“It was nice to see a lot of kids involved, as well,” Pellicano said.

The amount of trash collected filled a large town DOT truck “and then some.”

He said the town is always “amazed by the volume of trash that is purposely thrown out of vehicles.” But this year, there were added items collected from the sides of roads: rubber gloves and face masks used to protect people against the transmission of COVID-19.

“Honestly, hundreds of rubber gloves,” Pellicano said. “People should be aware this is very bad for the environment and really there is a considerate way to dispose of the gloves, which would be bringing them home and putting them in the trash can. And we see this at store parking lots as well, even ones that have trash receptacles nearby.”

News 8 reported on this issue earlier this month. With stores now requiring face masks to enter, there have been more and more reports of PPE discarded after shopping trips in parking lots. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin calling the practice a “health risk,” putting not only other shoppers at risk but those who have to clean it up.

RELATED: Health officials ask people to stop throwing used gloves, masks on the ground during coronavirus pandemic

The event was created decades ago because residents of the small, rural Connecticut town were tired of seeing trash being thrown out of vehicles onto the side of the road.

Pellicano hopes that a clean-looking road will discourage people from throwing garbage from their cars.

These days, it’s not only a great way to express civic pride, but also a chance to get out of the house during the coronavirus lockdown.

“And it could be organized in any community or neighborhood by individuals or small groups,” Pellicano explained. “It can be done in any town, city, or block. But making it a civic event ties the community together.”

If you have a feel-good story to share with us, please go to the Report It page or email us at reportit@wtnh.com. One Good Thing is sponsored locally by Oak Hill.

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