| Amy Porter
WESTFIELD — This spring, the Westfield Woman’s Club Garden Club joined efforts with the city Conservation Commission, local organizations and schools in order to help clean up the city through education.
Garden Club co-chair and former teacher Sandi Gil said litter in the city had been bothering her for a long time.
“If we can educate people of all age levels to simply use waste receptacles instead of Mother Earth, it will be a more beautiful Westfield,” she said.
Gil said many of the women in the Garden Club are avid gardeners, and many have been educators.
“Once an educator, always an educator. The ladies are committed to help get the word around to not litter. It is the hope of the club to touch base with every group in the city to get onboard on this campaign to ask the public to do what is right, and that is to simply to use trash containers. If none are available, then bring the litter home and use the one you have at home. The entire city can come together as one unit for this common cause,” she said.
Litter is any paper, plastic, glass bottle, can, coffee cup or container that has been discarded along the road. It is unsightly, and takes away from the natural beauty of the land, according to Gil.
“It takes hundreds of years for the deterioration of food containers, not to mention the destruction it causes along the way. If litter remains it can blow into waterways and can affect the organisms living in streams or rivers. On land, animals in our ecosystem can be affected if they ingest plastic or paper. Plastic can block the stomach of the animal and it will not be able to eat. The animal dies a slow and painful death. Our wildlife needs our help to give them a clean environment on which to live,” she said.
Toward that goal, the Garden Club sponsored a poster contest for fifth and sixth grade students at Westfield Intermediate School and St. Mary’s Parish School. All together, 41 students created posters, which were displayed in the Westfield on Weekends Creative Arts Center in April.
On May 10, Gil and Garden Club member Kathleen Hillman presented cash awards to the students who created the first, second and third place posters.
Intermediate School students receiving prizes were Neeley Grosse, first place; Janessa Marrero, second place; and Callie Hiner, third place. At St. Mary’s, Angelina Alfano received a first-place prize. All of the students are sixth graders.
In addition to bringing the message to the schools, the Garden Club has been in contact with the city’s Public Works Department asking it to erect anti-litter signs on major roads in the city and to enforce the $300 fine for littering from a vehicle or dumping trash. Gil also contacted local driving schools, who will now include the topic of proper litter disposal as part of the driving curriculum.
Gil said she would like Westfield to become the model for other cities and towns to follow.
“It is the hope of the Garden Club to see a neater, cleaner city. You can cure the litter problem and help our wildlife,” she said, adding, “Let’s get a clean, fresh start, Westfield!”