Cups, bottles and butts: RWU students clear Bristol waterfront of debris

The first-year students fill 60 trash bags with litter collected from Independence Park to Bristol Yacht Club

By Patrick Luce
Posted 8/29/16

Roger Williams University first-year students have just arrived in town, and have already made a huge impact on the community.

About 50 incoming freshmen at the university met at Independence Park …

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Cups, bottles and butts: RWU students clear Bristol waterfront of debris

The first-year students fill 60 trash bags with litter collected from Independence Park to Bristol Yacht Club

Posted

Roger Williams University first-year students have just arrived in town, and have already made a huge impact on the community.

About 50 incoming freshmen at the university met at Independence Park Monday morning to join forces with Save the Bay on a coastal cleanup. The students walked the rocky shore along the park, the southern end of the East Bay Bike Path and Poppasquash Road as far as the Bristol Yacht Club, picking up all manner of trash strewn around by careless revelers and passers-by.

“There are 27 of us in our group and most of us have bags half-full. Some have already dumped full bags,” said student Michaela Golding at about 10:30 a.m., only about an hour into the cleanup. “There are cigarette butts, candy wrappers, cups and bottles, and a lot of empty nips.”

Freshmen Fran Kleiner and Jenna Labossiere carefully picked up broken glass from the shore of Independence Park, near the end of the bike path, gingerly dropping the shards into plastic water bottle.

“There’s a lot of broken glass, and a lot of people walk around here,” Ms. Kleiner said. “I know I’m not about to cut my feet.”

One group of students pulled a wooden pole with a hook on it out of the brush along the shore, but most of the dirty finds were pretty typical of the litter commonly found around town — lots of empty coffee cups, soda and liquor bottles, plastic wrappers and cigarette butts — lots and lots of cigarette butts.

“It’s not a lot of big stuff,” said student Chris Luisi, from New York. “It feels good to pick up all the little stuff. It adds up.”

His partner, from neighboring New Jersey, shared his enthusiasm, but was less impressed with the amount of  trash they found. “I’m from Jew Jersey,” he said. “There’s a lot of trash around there.”

Still, the students had quite a haul, filling about 60 trash bags with all manner of debris collected along the shore. The students are part of a freshmen seminar class known as RW Experience, part of the university’s Community Connections program, a freshmen orientation program that sends students out into Bristol and others towns around the state to engage in community service projects. 

“The freshmen come in and so some community service in the town they’re going to be spending the next four years,” said RW Experience teacher Mark Andreozzi. “It’s part of the first-year experience at Roger Williams. It gives them the chance to connect to the community and get out and do some service.”

Begun in 2005, the Community Connections program has sent students throughout the state, performing community service projects at the WARM Center in Westerly, The Nature Conservancy in Charlestown, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council in Providence, and Franklin Court Assisted Living in Bristol, among several others.

“We have people who reach out to organizations that need help,” said Ms. Golding, a sophomore serving as a student adviser for the freshman class. 

Save the Bay is one such organization, which has been working with Roger Williams for more than a decade, according to Stan Dimock, who lives on Thames Street and can frequently be seen picking up trash along the waterfront and taking care of the flowers throughout downtown Bristol. In addition to the students and Save the Bay, he also credits the state Department of Environmental Management, which volunteers to haul away all those trash bags every year.

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