By Karina Gerry
A Town of Huntington official is asking Huntington’s residents to try to see the small actions can add up.
Councilman Ed Smyth (R) unveiled Jan. 24 a new non-litter initiative he calls Pick Six that asks residents to pick up six pieces of trash every day and throw it in the trash at Huntington Town Hall.
“Together, we can make our town cleaner,” Smyth said. “And a more environmentally friendly place to live work and do business.”
The program was inspired by Huntington resident Scott Schneider, an artist who for years has been collecting trash on his daily walks and turning them into art.
“‘Well what difference can I make,’ but now that it’s being rolled out to the whole town, you really see that small acts can turn into bigger ones.”
— Scott Schneider
“I always picked up trash,” he said. “I started taking pictures of trash and then when Instagram and Facebook came on, I started posting it and people seemed to really enjoy my trash pictures or my trashy pictures.”
The councilman saw Schneider’s art as the two have known each other prior to Smyth being elected to office through their children. It sparked a conversation about Schneider’s daily habit. A few weeks later, the Smyth contacted the artist to let him know that he would be rolling out a new initiative for the whole town inspired by Schneider’s work.
“As somebody who was kind of always working on my own, it was extremely exciting,” the artist said. “Because you always think, ‘Well what difference can I make,’ but now that it’s being rolled out to the whole town, you really see that small acts can turn into bigger ones.”
Smyth and his colleagues hope the initiative of Pick Six will become habitual for residents.
“What I see with my own eyes, and I think everybody does, is that there’s a lot of litter around,” he said. “I think we’ve gotten to the point now that we’re so accustomed to seeing it that we stop seeing it, stop noticing it, so it’s easy to ignore it and walk past it.”
While downtown Huntington area sees the most pedestrian foot traffic, the councilman wants to encourage people to not only pick up trash when they are in the village but at the town’s beaches and parks as well. Greg Wagner, Huntington’s director of Parks and Recreation, believes the program could make a huge difference.
“Typically, every morning at all of our beaches there are single-use plastics constantly, consistently washing up on our shores,” Wagner said.
“There seems to be unnecessary finger pointing going on where people say, ‘Oh well they should go clean it up.”
— Councilman Ed Smyth
Jack Palladino, president of the Huntington Village Business Improvement District and owner of Christopher’s Pub & Eatery, said the issue of trash has been something him and the BID have been dealing with for a while.
“The problem you have with some businesses is that you have absentee business owners, a lot of corporate places that you go in to speak to the management as soon as they clock out they are done for the day,” Palladino said. “But you have businesses that people have owned they live in town, they are the ones that are concerned.”
While restaurants, bars and places offering takeout food tend to produce more trash, the councilman refused to point fingers.
“There seems to be unnecessary finger pointing going on where people say, ‘Oh well they should go clean it up,’” Smyth said. “There’s always a pronoun in there that’s not I, always they or he or she.”
The councilman hopes that people will stop blaming the businesses for the trash.
“For the downtown areas, it has to be a collective effort,” he said. “Or it’s just not going to work, because very frankly the town, the BID and the businesses don’t have the resources individually to have someone on litter control.”