From rusty things to onion rings: cleanup day in Rochester

Apr 21, 2018

Girl Scout Ellen Veeder held up a bag of onion rings she found in the woods. "They're unopened!" she announced.

Ellen's brother Carl, tagging along with the Scouts as an assistant, had an idea. "Why don't you eat them?" he asked mischievously.

"Ew! Where's the trash bag?" Ellen asked.

"People!" piped up fellow Girl Scout Allyson Alford. "How can they be like this?!"

The Girl Scout troop was a few feet within the trees on New Bedford Road in Rochester, picking up trash as part of the town's annual Town Cleanup.

The cleanup originally began around 20 years ago, but it faded out and returned about six years ago, said organizer Nancy Boutin, a member of the Rochester Women's Club. The Women's Club works with the Rochester Land Trust every year to help clean up litter along the sides of the road in town.

This year, a line of cars waited to drop off electronic items, ready for recycling, at the Rochester Land Trust's booth outside the Women's Club headquarters on Marion Road. The Medical Reserve Corps had also set up a station to make information about tick prevention and safety available, particularly apt for volunteers who climbed through the woods to recover trash.

One volunteer stepped up to clean Walnut Plain Road.

"Be prepared for a lot of nip bottles," Boutin told him, wrinkling her nose.

Plastic nip bottles, the tiny 1.7 ounce bottles available from liquor stores, are commonly found scattered along Rochester's roads. Other popular items? Lottery tickets, plastic or styrofoam coffee cups, chip bags and plenty of plastic straws and shopping bags.

Rochester residents are willing to pitch in and clean up, though.

"Every year we get around 25 or 30 names signed up, and they always bring spouses or children," Boutin said.

The cleanup, she said, tends to focus on Rochester's center.

"We're always trying to expand beyond that. If you can't make it, you can always take part by cleaning in front of your own house!"