A simple walk Nathan Glass had with his wife this past April gave birth to a new environmental club.
“We were just walking around Scotia and were disgusted by how much garbage we found on the ground,” he said. “We found a plastic bag and started picking up all the garbage. By the time we got home, we had a full bag.”
Glass said he e-mailed some friends who lived in the village and the effort “spread like wildfire.”
Now, the group, which calls itself the Neighborhood Environmental Coalition, has grown to 20 members and is looking to expand.
They meet twice a month for about an hour to pick up garbage.
On Tuesday, the group met in the parking lot of Gabriel’s Market and then split up into different groups to head up and down Mohawk Avenue and various side streets.
From these cleanup missions, they’ve returned with everything from used diapers to condoms, Glass said, but cigarette butts are what they find most prevalent.
“Sometimes, we play a little game each time. We try to see who’s going to find the weirdest thing,” he said.
His wife, Stefanie, said the most interesting item she found was a coat rack.
The Glasses picked up garbage on Tuesday with their 5-month-old daughter, Natalie, riding along in a stroller.
Nathan Glass said he hoped residents would be more careful with their garbage. He said a lot of it blows out of garbage cans.He also wished there were “no littering” signs hung up in convenience stores and around the village so people would get the message.
The club will take bottles to a recycling or redemption center. Sometimes, the group finds loose change, which it puts into its own coffers. Every little bit helps.
He estimated that they collect about 75 pounds in an average cleanup. Its biggest project was collecting garbage from Collins Park after a fireworks show.
Heather Smith said she enjoys the exercise and doing something worthwhile.
“It’s cool afterward to see huge bags of garbage … heavier than us,” she said.
Another resident, Ed Wagner, said he had been picking up garbage along Sacandaga Road on his own and then he heard about this effort and decided to take part.
Children were also helping out. Kristin Simmino of Scotia and her 5-year-old son, Justin Fyvie, were working as a team.
“It teaches my son that people need to take better care of our earth and keep everything clean,” Simmino said.
“You guys are doing a great job,” said a resident from a nearby window. “Thank you.”
Glass said 99 percent of the people support their efforts, although there are sometimes young people who do not understand what they are doing or think they are doing mandated community service.
Glass said the organization really started taking off when he bumped into Deputy Mayor Joe Rizzo, who suggested that Glass speak about the effort at a Board of Trustees meeting. Trustee Armon Benny also sent e-mails to about 150 people, which increased interest even more.
The organization has already received some donations from the community. First National Bank of Scotia donated $134 for bags and gloves. It also got t-shirts courtesy of Silver Graphics with original artwork by Cat Legere.
It is even getting donations from people outside Scotia.
“It shows that people just want to help even if it’s not in their town or neighborhood,” Glass said.
For more information or to get on the coalition’s e-mail list, contact Glass at 312-2154 or [email protected]
“I don’t think were trying to save the world. It’s a real easy thing that people should care about. I grew up here and I don’t remember it being like this when I was young,” Glass said.