Equipped with “nifty nabbers,” gloves and garbage bags, members of Valley Stream’s Anti-Litter Committee took to the streets last Saturday to help beautify the village.
During the two-hour morning cleanup, volunteers filled eight garbage bags with trash that had been tossed on the roadside, David Sabatino, the committee’s village liaison, said. The group met at Fletcher Avenue and West Merrick Road, and spread out in smaller groups as far as Hendrickson Avenue in one direction and Rockaway Avenue in the other.
“You could visibly see the improvement,” Sabatino said of the cleanup.
Joane Vincent, vice chair of the Valley Stream Beautification Committee and the cleanup’s organizer, noted that the last few times the volunteers have gone out, masks have been a prevalent form of litter. She also said that candy wrappers are increasingly seen now that school is back in person. In addition to enhancing the quality of life in the village, the committee seeks to raise awareness about the effects of litter on the community.
“Even if you just think it’s a candy wrapper, it accumulates over time. So, just trying to get people to be aware of the impact of litter is also another one of our goals with this committee,” Vincent commented.
Sabatino said that trash left in storm drains is also a particular concern in the village. Trash in drains, he noted, causes garbage, in particular plastic, to accumulate in local streams that flow to the bays and ocean.
“We have so many streams here, and they all collect storm water,” Sabatino said, noting that each piece of litter removed from a storm drain can help improve the village’s appearance and the environment. “It’s a small impact, but it’s huge down the line.”
The Anti-Litter Committee was formed during the pandemic last year as a sub-committee of the Beautification Committee. Volunteers meet monthly to identify problem areas and develop cleanup plans. Vincent said the committee focuses on areas with the most trash.
“It adds pride to the community to see how beautiful it really can be,” Kevin Waszak, the Beautification Committee’s chair, said of the cleanup results.
Vincent said she noticed the committee’s efforts are having a cumulative impact. At times during cleanup sessions, she said, volunteers will join along the way. Spurred by the committee’s cleanups, Vincent said she has seen residents organize their own.
“I’ve seen positive change,” she said. “I think that people seeing us out in the community . . . are encouraged to do their own cleanups . . . If you can just pick up a few pieces of litter, it makes a difference.”
The next cleanup is scheduled for July, and the committee welcomes anyone who wants to take part. Residents interested in joining the village’s Beautification Committee or any of its subcommittees can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.