Connecticut Post (Sunday)

Fairfield looks to tackle litter problem

- Joshua.LaBella@hearstmedi­ By Josh LaBella

FAIRFIELD — The town is looking at a variety of options to tackle a litter problem people have noticed pop up over the past few months in town.

First Selectwoma­n Brenda Kupchick said can’t quantify it but she has noticed more garbage than normal laying around town, and residents have also reached out to her about the issue.

“It’s just like everybody’s littering,” she said. “I don’t know why. People litter but it seems like a lot now. You see it in front of businesses, in front of people’s houses and on the streets. It’s not good.”

Kupchick said she is working with the Department of Public Works to schedule community cleanups in the spring. She said she is also seeing if Fairfield can use state funding towns get through the sale of miniature liquor bottles — more commonly known as “nips.”

Each town receives five cents for each nip sold within its jurisdicti­on. From Oct. 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2022 Fairfield got $32,205 for about 644,000 nips sold, according to Wines and Spirits Wholesaler­s of Connecticu­t.

Kupchick has been thinking about using part of Fairfield’s portion to give scholarshi­ps to high school clubs that organize cleanups.

“Potentiall­y, they could be eligible for a small amount (of money) for their club,” she said. “We’d work with them to help them and to help us tackle areas in town.”

The state started charging a five-cent surcharge on the tiny bottles in 2021, as part of a larger expansion of the state’s bottle return program. Critics of the program have argued it failed to do anything about the millions of nips sold and littered across the state. The new tax generated had generated more than $4 million as of last year for towns to spend on environmen­tal and litter removal efforts.

Kupchick said she sees nips thrown about throughout town, as well as general garbage. She said no area is spared from this, adding she gets complaints from every corner of town.

“I see it in front of my own house,” she said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve come home from town hall and seen a Dunkin’ Donuts cup thrown in front of my house or a soda bottle, or a whole bag of McDonald’s.”

Kupchick said she put a blurb about it in her newsletter. in hopes of raising awareness about the issue She said home or business owners who see garbage in front of their buildings have a responsibi­lity to pick it up.

She said larger cleanups also help.

Kupchick said she participat­ed in a community clean up a few years ago at Gould Manor Park, where trash clearly thrown from the highway littered the ground. She said every little bit helps and a cleanup would be good for Fairfield, whether it is organized by the town, a club or a neighborho­od.

“Residents will expect the DPW to clean up litter, and they do,” she said. “But, I think it’s nice for all of us to take some responsibi­lity for it. I’m looking for creative ways to tackle it. If more people get involved in it, and people see other people in their neighborho­od are out there picking up garbage, they’ll help too.”

“It’s just like everybody’s littering. I don’t know why. People litter but it seems like a lot now.” Brenda Kupchick, first selectwoma­n

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