BRISTOL - Nick Rufo loves walking around his Bristol neighborhood and hopes to inspire his fellow neighbors to keep the community clean.
“I live on the West End and I’m out walking all the time,” he said, sharing that when he sees trash lying around, he feels obligated to pick them up. “There’s a lot of people who take walks around here all the time, so I don’t want them to get hurt from broken glass or any hazards lying around.”
Inspired by Earth Day, the city of Bristol organized a community-wide clean up Saturday and Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said she hopes it will catch on and attract more people to help keep the city clean.
“We wanted to use this event as a springboard and also to remind everyone that we are responsible in keeping our living areas clean,” she said. “While this is to commemorate Earth Day, we also want it to be a more frequent event because if everyone pitches in and gets involved, the easier we can continue with our ongoing conservation efforts.”
Volunteers gathered early Saturday morning at the city’s West End to grab their kits of trash bags, grabbers, and location assignments. Everyone had a yellow t-shirt on that said, “All Heart Community Clean Up Team” and the mayor said the color was chosen specifically so it stands out for people to see.
“Especially now with better weather, people are going to want to be outside more. So we hope they see what the volunteers are doing and get inspired to do more together,” said Zoppo-Sassu. “It’s also such a happy color.”
With calls out for volunteers all week, roughly 250 people signed up to clean various spots throughout the city, including high traffic areas, main thoroughfares, parks, and neighborhoods. Bright yellow shirts dotted up and down the greenspace on Memorial Boulevard and for Bristol resident Loriann Marquez, it was the perfect opportunity to show her appreciation for the city.
“It’s a nice day out and because it was Earth Day, this is a good thing to do,” she said.
Along with community cleanups, the city also has various ongoing conservation efforts like composting, curbside recycling, and upcycling. The Public Works Department has designed various events to help eliminate waste, including collecting plastics to build recycled benches for local parks and hosting “trash to treasure” events where large items, such as furniture, could avoid the landfill and be redirected to the farmer’s market for people to grab.
The city has also partnered with Simple Recycling, where residents can recycle clothing/textiles by placing them at the curb on their regular recycle day and the items are sold to thrift stores for resale.
Preparing to head out to his location, Rufo said it is good to see people who are willing to volunteer their time for a good cause. “I was happy to do this on my own, but it’s even better to see other people who want to do the same thing,” he said. “I hope this provides a wake up call for people that we need to protect our city by keeping it clean.”
Hilary Stoudt was out with her husband and three-month-old son, armed with rakes and trash bags, ready to spend the day outside.
“We’re here in honor of Earth Day to help keep our community clean,” she said. “It’s also to make sure that our residents and our kids have a clean and safe place to live. We do this on our own all the time, so it’s nice to see a joint effort coming out to do this together.”
Contact Catherine Shen at firstname.lastname@example.org