New Paltz Clean Sweep, the annual effort to make a concerted effort to rid the community of litter, will be held this year the morning of April 29. For the fourth year running, a textile collection drive will be held by village hall on the same day. Volunteers are still needed to pick up after the less conscientious members of and visitors to the community.
“It’s not just one day,” said Sue Stegen of the Community Improvement Team, which is coordinated in conjunction with SUNY New Paltz staff. Encouraging people not to litter in the first place — whether it’s a cigarette butt tossed from a car window, plastic beer cup discarded on the way home from a party, or phone books deposited unsolicited at the ends of driveways — is the kind of ethic Stegen would like to see encouraged instead.
That’s not to suggest that the situation hasn’t improved from year to year. Stegen said that the number of bottles and cans collected years ago was probably six times the amount that were rounded up last year, which she largely attributes to the success of the state bottle-deposit law. That’s a particularly easy type of waste to track; Stegen did not have any handy data on whether the number of single-use plastic bags has dropped since a village law banning them locally took effect in 2014.
In its fourth year, the textile drive is a different approach to reducing waste. While New Paltz Clean Sweep volunteers nab litter that’s accumulated in the community, textile drive organizers strive to keep these reusable materials out of the waste stream entirely. Clean clothing and textiles can be brought to the upper parking lot by the village hall at 23 Plattekill Avenue from 9 a.m. until noon. Acceptable items include “shirts, pants, sheets, curtains, handbags, belts and footwear … even if it’s worn, torn or stained.” Anything that’s dirty, oily, or mildewed will be turned away. Items which are in good enough condition will be reused, and the rest will be recycled into new materials.
New Paltz Clean Sweep volunteers are encouraged to register ahead of time, particularly if they wish to pick up litter together in a group, by visiting newpaltz.edu/careers/cleansweep.html. They should gather at St. Joseph’s Church on South Chestnut Street no later than 8:30 a.m. to sign in and obtain gloves, garbage bags, instructions, and complimentary breakfast treats.