Spring Cleanup


(This column was first published in the April 18, 2004 issue of The Buffalo Sunday News.)


Each spring an embarrassing mass of trash is disclosed when the snow finally melts.


The drifts had been gone for about a week when I decided to sample what had not already been picked up. I would walk a mile along our neighborhood sidewalks with a couple of garbage bags to gather and enumerate what I found. Here is a list of just some of that collection:


A broken CD disk; a half-dozen bloody tissues strewn over about fifty yards of sidewalk; two broken beer bottles; four neighborhood give-away newspapers, two still in plastic wrappers; a full-size cereal box.


A mile? That turned out to be a joke. I was only able to make a quarter of that before my load got too heavy to carry. And if I had not found additional garbage bags along the way, I would not have been able to carry it at all.


Seven paper drink cups of five brands; four plastic water bottles of three brands; a (losing?) $15,000,000 Bonanza card; two glass liquor pints; a condom package; an empty postage box addressed to a neighbor; a child's block.


We're all responsible for our yards, but public lands are also strewn with throwaway items. We are very fortunate to have people like Sharon Trembath and Robbyn Drake who, with their organizations, help us to clean up some of this garbage.


A jello package; two plastic mail bags; a container for chicken wings; two dishcloths; a gallon plastic container for an orange drink; both parts of a ceiling smoke detector; a rubber glove.


Under the auspices of the Friends of the Buffalo Niagara Rivers (FBNR), Robbyn is heading up an International Niagara Watershed Clean Up from April 22 to May 1. Already signed up to cooperate are: the City of Buffalo, Erie County DEP, Keep WNY Beautiful, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Erie County Water Quality Coordinating Committee, New York Public Interest Research Group, Earth Day Coalition, Canisius, Daemon and Buffalo State Colleges, University at Buffalo, Tifft Nature Preserve and Valley Community Center.


A half-gallon orange juice paper container; a large ceiling fan box; a throw-away cigarette lighter; three plastic drinking cups of two brands; a pint plastic oil container; a tape dispenser; a spaghetti can.


You, even better your whole family or any organization can join FBNR to help with this clean-up of sites along local waterways - the Niagara and Buffalo Rivers and Cazenovia, Scajaquada, Buffalo, Ellicott, Tonawanda and Cayuga Creeks. To do so contact them at 881-1217, info@fbnr.org or the FBNR website.


Seven metal drink cans of five brands; a large cardboard box marked "Beauty Head"; six cigarette packages of five brands; a donut bag; three paper plates; a wad of a dozen paper napkins; a banana peel.


Meanwhile, Sharon Trembath, leader of the local program for many years, has received the report of her Erie and Niagara section of the statewide American Littoral Society Beach Clean-up. Last September she oversaw 2344 volunteers in ten regional counties who picked up over 13 1/2 tons of trash along our waterways. That was 2097 garbage bags full of debris that had been polluting our lakeshores and streamsides. The date for this year's event will be September 18. More information about it may be obtained from the American Littoral Society website.


A half-dozen plastic drink covers, most still retaining straws; three AA batteries; a copy of the News still in its orange wrapper; a small can of turkey and giblets; several teabags; and an unlimited number of cigarette stubs.


We should be proud of these wonderful young women and their organizations who do so much for this region but equally shamed by our polluting neighbors who so carelessly create this mess.-- Gerry Rising