Will You Help End Briarcliff’s Trash-pocalypse, Now? 

Have you noticed that we’re living in a new world of trash? It’s not like people – or should I say anti-social jerks – never previously tossed rubbish out of their moving vehicles or sneakily dumped stuff, when motoring or walking our highways, side streets, parks and so on.  

But these days (and I think of it as a post-Covid phenomenon) the problem has taken on gigantic proportions. As a resident of Briarcliff Manor and a frequent driver down Route 9, I particularly noticed this on the stretch between the entrance to Phelps Hospital and Guadalajara restaurant. The garbage was thick on the ground, and I don’t just mean drink cans and paper cups. There was heavy duty plastics, cardboard packaging, Styrofoam, a bizarre rash of red Folgers coffee canisters, and much more. At the turn to Route 117 were filled, industrial-looking bins, furniture and other undreamed-of ejections. (I use the past tense as a New York State Department of Transport – NYSDOT – clean-up is just taking place, giving some temporary respite.) 

This is surely not an isolated phenomenon, but it bothered me so much that I recently started a Facebook conversation about it, wondering if other, similarly horrified local residents would be interested in trying to do something about the problem. The response was interesting – largely positive, though with a few tangential comments about taxes, penal solutions and so on.  

I was also contacted by Briarcliff Village Manager Josh Ringel who suggested I approach NYSDOT – which is responsible for the highways – and consider starting an Adopt-A-Highway scheme. This is a sponsorship system by which businesses, organizations or, as in our case, concerned citizens can volunteer to be responsible for a stretch of roadway, in return for state support. The commitment is for two years and requires four clean-ups a year. NYSDOT must approve the section of roadway selected, usually for a length of some two miles, and if agreed, they then supply safety training, hazard vests, trash bags and disposal of the collected waste. 

This is not a minor undertaking, and it seems possible that NYSDOT will not approve the roadway I’m talking about, given it includes a steep hillside. But I’m working to assemble this group, and if anyone would like to become a part of it, please contact me via Messenger or through River Journal. 

Another possible route might be to involve the village’s Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC). These volunteer committees, also called Environment Councils, are springing up all around and doing valuable work to improve and green our communities. In celebration of Earth Day (April 22, annually), Briarcliff’s SAC is planning a Stash the Trash morning, on April 21, which will be a village-wide effort to clean up roadsides.  

But once a year just isn’t enough to turn the tide or even stem it. So, I am wondering if we should plan a regular Stash the Trash program, perhaps cleaning once or twice a month, and spreading the effort beyond individual black spots? I know this has been done in other villages, with the support of local businesses. It takes some organization, and a significant degree of participation, but if the community shows a willingness, I’d be happy to try to start organizing it.  

So, good citizens of Briarcliff, are you with me? 




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About the Author: Elsbeth Lindner