When Mindy Ryan of Greenport takes a morning run or walk around the village she notices many things: the charming houses, the beautiful harbor — and garbage. A lot of garbage.
“It’s all so discouraging,” says Ryan. “I would see all this trash while I was running and I couldn’t pick it — you can’t carry garbage bags while you’re running. And I knew that a lot of this trash would blow down the streets and end up in the bay.”
A minor injury caused Ryan to switch to walking instead of running and it was then she was able to start picking up the bottles, cans, coffee cups and soda straws.
“I will be taking a morning walk with my husband and all of a sudden I’ll be gone because I’m off in a bush pulling out garbage,” she said. “I do it when I can; you could spend all day picking up garbage from the streets.”
About a week ago Ryan posted a photo to the “Let’s Talk Village of Greenport” Facebook page of trash she saw in a sump near the old Blue Canoe restaurant down near the waterfront.
“Sad to see this mess,” she wrote. “Trash on the street is a big problem…plastic bottles, glass bottles, lotto tickets, cigarette packs, plastic bags, coffee cups. I doubt it’s our visitors leaving all of this behind.”
The response to her post was immediate with other Greenport residents posting their concern and their offers of help.
Greenport businessman Paul Kreiling went down on his lunch break and picked up a whole ton of trash, Ryan said. Real estate broker Jerry Cibulski posted that he keeps a bag in his car for picking up garbage he sees on a regular basis. Yesterday he found an arrow, three mason jars and a green recycling bag all in one block.
All of this interest inspired Ryan to post a pledge on Facebook:
“I pledge, to at least once a week, walk through our Village with a grocery bag and collect litter off our streets and sidewalks. Who’s in?”
Her pledge led to a meeting with Mary Bess Phillips, a Greenport trustee and administrator of the “Let’s Talk Village of Greenport” Facebook page. The two women decided to open up a Facebook event and invite their neighbors to join in the effort to clean up Greenport’s streets.
The “One Bag at a Time” project, says Phillips, will set an example for children and others to respect the village.
“We are a waterfront community,” she said. “We need to take pride in our streets, our homes and our local waters.”
Phillips also added that she will be checking into the progress made by the village to install more receptacles on the streets.