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Worcester Prepares for City Wide Clean Up for Earth Day

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


 Worcester is getting a spring cleaning – literally. “This is our big one. It is the launch every year of a series of clean-ups, but this is our biggest,” said Steve Fisher, director of the Regional Environmental Council (REC) in Worcester, which organizes an annual Earth Day event for Worcester. This year the Annual REC Earth Day Clean-Up will be held on Saturday, April 21.

Earth Day is actually Sunday, April 22 but many areas officially celebrate it one day early.

In Worcester, the celebration is really big this year. 

“This is our 23rd year organizing the event,” Fisher said of what is a partnership with the city and several private companies. “This is our biggest one yet.”

Several thousand volunteers will gather at 93 sites throughout the city, Fisher said, and pick up whatever everyone else has left behind. Last year, about 1,000 volunteers cleaned up 65 sites. In all, they collected 36 tons of trash. 

That may seem like a lot, Fisher said, but it depends on your perspective.

“It is a lot, definitely,” he said. “But in the couple decades we’ve done this, we’ve seen progress.”

The REC started the annual clean-up in 1989. That year there were far fewer than this year’s 93 sites and only a couple hundred volunteers. They gathered 50 tons of trash. That the amount of trash has decreased in the years since is testament to the efforts of the city, the public and many private partners, Fisher said.

“The city and community partners have really taken it upon themselves and really made a lot of progress,” he said. “There is reason to be optimistic.”

The half-day event – work starts at 8 a.m. and goes until noon – is a way to bring people together, said Fisher. 

“It really is a great opportunity for neighbors to come out and enjoy the weather and work in friendship with their neighbors and beautify the city,” he said. 

Fisher said he is particularly excited about the expansion of the number of sites from 65 to 93, saying, “It signals that people want to get more involved in their communities.”

Benito Vega, community organizer and outreach coordinator for the REC, agreed with Fisher.

“This is a great way to build the positive relationships we need to have in the city,” he said. 

And while the event is being held just one day, “In our organization, everyday is Earth Day,” Vega said. 

He had an interesting take on how much trash might be collected during the clean-up, saying, “It’s a Catch-22. I won’t be disappointed if there’s less trash. Now we’re covering more ground in areas that haven’t been hit before. We will see areas that have never been touched. They may have a lot of trash or they may have none.

“In a way, I’m hoping less, but I’m hoping it’s more so we show the city we’re really cleaning up. But if it’s less, then we’ll know the message is getting out there.”

REC will help spread that message even before the Earth Day event by hosting what Vega called a press event in front of City Hall Tuesday, April 17 at 4 p.m. 

The Annual REC Earth Day Clean-Up is run in conjunction with the city’s Department of Public Works and Parks as well as several major sponsors, including National Grid. Other private partners include Casella Waste Systems, Superior Waste Management, Wheelabrator, Worcester Common Ground and area colleges such as WPI and Assumption.

Anyone may volunteer to participate in the clean-up by visiting www.recworcester.org or calling REC at 508-799-9139. T-shirts, trash bags, gloves and tools such as shovels and rakes will be provided. A cookout will be held at 1 p.m. after the clean-up at Castle Park. 



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