Scituate’s shores, parks, fields, and streets are about to be crowded with public spirited citizens once again, as organizers prepare for Ship Shape Day.
An on-and-off annual tradition since the '80s, the day is a townwide beautification effort, conducted by hordes of volunteers who go forth with town-funded and color-coded trash bags to remove litter from public spaces.
“People from all over town come out. Every neighborhood comes out. Individuals and groups, it’s a wide participation that is very widespread,” said Donna Bangert, chair of the Beautification Commission, which hosts the event.
The two-day event wil start on Saturday, April 27, at Scituate Town Hall. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers wait at the building to hand out bags and disposable gloves. Safety vests and grabbing devices are also available for a deposit, which is refunded when the items are returned.
Volunteers picking up supplies are then asked to chose a place to clean, based on a map of locations picked by the Commission.
“There are definitely some areas that are little pockets where people feel no compunction about throwing away anything,” Bangert said. “They go there to get rid of stuff they don’t know how to get rid of.”
Fences at baseball fields and wooded areas without houses are typically on the list, as are local playgrounds, parks, and beaches.
Typically beach associations come by to help with their beach areas, and Boy Scouts volunteer on occasion, too.
Though some may say picking up other people’s trash just encourages them to litter in the future, Bangert said there is evidence to the contrary.
“Research has been done by organizations like Keep America Beautiful. And they have shown where trash is present, people are more likely to litter,” Bangert said, “… 85 percent of the decision to throw out trash is based on whether you’ve learned that littering is wrong. You’re less likely to do it. Education is a huge part when someone litters. But seeing trash present is the next biggest impact.”
Bangert said she doesn’t think Scituate has any more trash than any other community, but that Ship Shape day has had an impact in reducing trash overall.
“We have to keep at it. If we want to change people’s behavior, we have to do this first. Pick up the trash, because not doing so encourages more littering,” she said.
In addition to the help from local volunteers and families, Scituate Police also assist in slowing down traffic for areas along busy roads where volunteers pick up trash.
“Scituate Police are wonderful about working with us,” Bangert said. “Anyone who wants to do a roadside that’s maybe a bit more dangerous, they are willing to go and check on groups. We’re grateful for them for that assistance.”
Once trash is collected, town employees go out throughout town to pick up the specially colored bags, left on the sides of streets.
The event is one of two happening on the South Shore in the next few weeks.
On May 4 in Cohasset, Hingham, and Hull, volunteers are encouraged to come to the Weir River Estuary to help pick up litter.
The event starts at 10 a.m. with a check-in at Rocky Beach in Cohasset, at 151 Atlantic Avenue in Hull, on Rockland Street/Kilby Street in Hingham, or at the Estuary Center on George Washington Boulevard at the Hingham-Hull town line.
Trash bags will be provided for those that do not have any. All volunteers are invited to a free cookout at noon in Hull afterwards.
For more information on Clean Up Day, click here.
For more information on Ship Shape Day, click here.