'Hope for the future': Fairfield beach cleanup kicks off Earth Week

FAIRFIELD — Close to 20 volunteers stepped out Sunday afternoon to help make Penfield Beach a cleaner place.

The Mill River Wetland Committee, Inc., in conjunction with Fairfield University’s Leaders for Environmental Action at Fairfield club, combed the beach collecting debris for proper disposal, keeping special eyes out for discarded masks.

“Water is our most precious commodity,” said Reini Knorr, MRWC board member, noting that the event was one of several activities the nonprofit group has planned for Earth Month.

“There’s always hope for the future, for better things,” she said.

MRWC was approached by the LEAF club, which was seeking an event to do in celebration of upcoming Earth Day on April 22.

“And we wanted to show our commitment to the town of Fairfield by coming to the beach,” explained Hope Marino, the club’s president.

As part of the cleanup — and other ones the group is hosting in the next few weeks — the MRWC is targeting discarded personal protective equipment.

“We are really focusing on the PPEs, for as we are trying to protect ourselves, we’re adding to an already … pervasive and overwhelming problem,” said Carrie Rullo, vice president of the group, noting disposable masks and gloves.

Through some research they were able to find an organization called iPromo that donates a new mask for every five pieces of PPE collected and turned in to them.

“It’s important to get that stuff out of the water … and to help get disposable masks to people,” Rullo said.

The other volunteers agreed there was a need for these events.

“There’s just litter everywhere and it’s so terrible,” said Alyssa Coppola, of Norwalk, who gave her afternoon to help out in a neighboring community.

Living near an open space property herself, she said she’s been so disappointed by the accumulation of litter that she has gone out on her own and collected some.

“I thought, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great if I could get involved in more cleanups?’” she said.

Brad Kerner, of Fairfield, a.k.a. The Eco Dude, and his son, Jonah, were also among the participants to help pitch in.

“I just saw it on Instagram and I came,” he said. “I like to support all beach cleanups.”

LEAF member Elizabeth Decrisanti agreed.

“I just think it’s really important,” she said. “Keeping our environment clean is good for the greater community.”

To learn about other upcoming MRWC cleanup events visit www.mrwc-fairfield.org/.