Providence Journal

City’s Earth Day cleanup a feisty and festive event

01:00 AM EDT on Thursday, April 19, 2007

By Cynthia Needham, Journal Staff Writer


WARWICK — 171 volunteers, 300 waste bags, 160 hot dogs and 25 extra-large pizzas.


That’s what it took to put on the state’s largest Earth Day cleanup, held Saturday in Warwick.


“Overall it was a total success. This was our 10th year and it was our biggest Earth Day cleanup yet,” said organizer Steve Insana, president of the Buckeye Brook Coalition.


The volunteers focused in part on cleaning the banks of the brook, but they also fanned out throughout the community, clearing trash and debris from the shoreline, the area around T.F. Green Airport and just about everywhere else residents thought needed a once-over.


Among the participants were a group of several dozen from City Year, Boy Scout troops, off-duty employees of the Warwick Sewer Authority and a team from Save the Bay. Also on hand was a group from the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, which always lends its effort to the annual cleanup, Insana said.


When the Buckeye Brook Earth Day cleanup was born a decade ago, the idea was to remove litter from the brook itself. But as the years passed and more people volunteered, the scope of the cleanup expanded. Now volunteers sweep the shoreline from Pawtuxet south to Oakland Beach and east to Narragansett Bay — the watershed of the Buckeye Brook.


“Every year it gets bigger and better. It’s awesome,” said Insana. But watching the event grow has brought its share of stresses as well. It now takes at least six months to plan, and organizing that many volunteers brings its own share of challenges.


Anchored at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Sandy Lane, the event has morphed into a local festival. There were grills going and snacks served, as well as booths set up by environmental groups and local businesses. There were even visitors from the Ocean State Raptors Center for birds of prey.


After the event, there was another round of coordination efforts so all that trash — the bags, the tires and the oddball finds such as bedsprings and discarded household appliances — could be disposed of by the city.


“Like I said, it’s awesome, but I don’t know if I want it to get any bigger,” Insana joked.


Is he enjoying some down time now that the work is done?


“I’m already working on next year’s,” he said.