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Jul 3, 2018 5:32 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

'Tis The Season For Trash In East Hampton Town

An overflowing trash can at a local beach. COURTESY DELL CULLUM
Jul 3, 2018 5:54 PM

Summer in East Hampton brings lots of visitors and lots of outdoor activity, which can translate to lots of food, liquor and other beverages—and all the garbage that comes along for the ride.

Is there room for it all in East Hampton?

East Hampton Town Trustee Dell Cullum, an environmental activist who has been cleaning local beaches for many years, said he has been anticipating the official start of the annual garbage wave.

“We’re off trying to figure out which weekend is going to be the kickoff, either this or next weekend,” Mr. Cullum said on Sunday. “It’s not so bad yet—I think now it’s going to start. Starting this weekend, and as we progress through the summer, I think that’s our heaviest volume of trash and litter.”

Mr. Cullum has seen poor waste disposal in many forms. He’s frequently picked up cans and bottles left over at such beaches as Atlantic Avenue in Amagansett, Egypt Beach near Hook Pond, and Georgica Beach near Apaquogue. Mr. Cullum has also seen tipped-over garbage cans and even random pieces of litter thrown to the side of Montauk Highway.

He said he drove along Hands Creek Road this week and noticed that it was “trashed” compared to how it looked last week.

“You could see where a guy pulled over just to clean out his car, and you can tell another area was where somebody left a bunch of stuff at the corner. This is the mentality that hurts everybody. It’s, like, ‘If no one sees me put it here, I’ll get it off my hands. Meanwhile, I know somebody else will come along and pick it up,’” Mr. Cullum said.

These messes aren’t left entirely unchecked. The Town of East Hampton has members of its Department of Sanitation, Highway Department and local volunteers helping to mitigate the mess.

East Hampton Village Administrator Becky Hansen said on Tuesday that the Village Public Works Department has staff members emptying trash bins in the morning and afternoon on Main Street, Newtown Lane and at Herrick Park. Trash cans at village beaches are monitored by beach staff, Ms. Hansen said, with the first pick-ups between 4 and 5 a.m. on the weekends to ensure that the beach starts out as garbage-free as possible for the busy days.

She added that the location with the most trash buildup “depends on the day,” but she did note that Main Beach may be more susceptible to overflowing bins, as it is a popular beach and has a concession stand where visitors can buy food.

Mr. Cullum pointed out that it might take time for workers in the appropriate departments to learn about overflowing bins and litter, adding that there are only so many volunteers available to help clean up.

“We can’t keep up—it’s just simple logic,” Mr. Cullum said. “We know that there’s a super-huge spurt of population growth during this time of year, and it equals that much more garbage. Meanwhile, the manpower doesn’t really change that much.”

The town also has its Recycling and Litter Committee, residents who meet throughout the year to discuss ways to manage litter. The committee’s chair, Kathleen Kirkwood, said on Monday that she also sees the start of the trash season coincide with the arrival of summer visitors.

“You’re not only getting trash from local consumer products but also consumer products from outside Long Island,” Ms. Kirkwood said, meaning things people bring with them. “Anywhere that there’s eating, like a picnic park or beaches, there’s litter to pick up.”

Mr. Cullum suggested employing people who are required to do community service to keep a lookout for overflowing trash cans and litter on populated main roads in East Hampton. If that run of using community service workers is effective, he believes the town could create two new jobs exclusively monitoring the main roads for excessive litter.

He also has a more immediate solution: get rid of trash cans at beaches.

“If you don’t pull them off the beaches at night, they remain unsupervised,” he said. “When people are finished at the bar and come down to the beaches to hang out, everybody brings their trash to the receptacle. At this time, those receptacles might already be full. They set trash on top or around the receptacle, and to them that’s satisfactory.”

Ms. Kirkwood has ideas of her own, suggesting that distributors of major products could pay the town a percentage of sales to clean up local litter. The committee also offers the Adopt-A-Road program, where those who’d like to sign on can select one mile of road in the town to have named after them in exchange for them picking up trash on each section of the road.

A more advanced idea Ms. Kirkwood has is numbering each of the approximate 800 trash cans around town and placing a sign on each asking anyone who sees the cans full or overflowing to text “litter” to the Department of Sanitation. This way, town employees can empty the receptacles before they’re tipped over and their contents are scattered.

“People are throwing the cans all over the place,” Ms. Kirkwood said. “If the Sanitation Department knew where the cans are being overturned, they’d respond to clean up the area. Help would be at the ready much quicker.”

For a more immediate solution, Mr. Cullum has two ideas: cleaning up the front lawn or shoulder of one’s property, and bringing a recyclable bag to pick up trash to local beaches.

The ideas are there, but Ms. Kirkwood knows the problem will require consistent follow-through.

“The garbage is a big problem,” she said. “We’re consuming more every day, and that’s not going to change, but we’ve made some achievements.”

“If everybody would pick up three pieces of trash every day, imagine how much trash would get picked up,” Mr. Cullum said. “To somebody who’s picking this stuff up every day, I guarantee I would see a difference, and I think the community will see a difference in the long run.”

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Trash overflow at our beaches is a known issue. We routinely see overflowing garbage cans at SH and EH town beaches, why dont our towns employee people to collect the trash multiple times per day in the summer? It's worth the $.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (580), southampton on Jul 6, 18 10:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
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By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (580), southampton on Jul 6, 18 12:57 PM
This isn't just happening in Easthampton. Every Town/Hamlet should be adopting biweekly beach clean ups. Theres plenty of people here , who care about the environment, to volunteer. And people, PLEASE, when you go to the beach. pick up the garbage around you, just because you didn't do it doesnt mean it should remain on the beach . Do the right thing
By toes in the water (692), southampton on Jul 12, 18 6:33 AM
AT the same time, what is wrong with people to try an shove garbage into a can thats full, particularly at a beach. Be responsible take your bag of garbage with you if the can is full!!!
By toes in the water (692), southampton on Jul 12, 18 6:36 AM