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Pitching in to pick up beach litter: Islanders organize event for Saturday

In the midst of a pandemic, when people have been asked to take precautions and shelter in place, a look at Island beaches reveals that residents and visitors flocked to the shores and left behind litter in far greater amounts than has been typical at the end of other summers.

That’s what motivated Islanders Everest Wein and Kristina Lange to launch a beach cleanup this Saturday, Sept. 26. Mr. Wein, who specialized in environmental studies and economics at Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y., before pursuing a career in television, found himself back on Shelter Island in March when the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic struck. He’d been working on the CBS television show “Blue Bloods” that had been filming in New York City until shooting had to shut down.

Returning home, he decided to show some love for the place where he spent much of his time growing up, and where he conceived of a company he expects will be selling sustainable products to kill bacteria on some of the items people frequently carry.

But as he laid the groundwork for his No Germ Club company, he also recognized the beaches littered with masks, gloves and other PPEs, along with food containers from carry out meals, could not be ignored.

He began organizing a beach cleanup and sought a partner, finding one in the Group for the East End, where membership director Ms. Lange possessed the same passion for sustainability and environmental protection.

“I’m a real stickler for details,” Ms. Lange said. “We want to clean the beaches but make it fun for people of all ages.”

She said it angers her that there are people “who show complete disregard for the environment and their fellow human beings.”

Shelter Island is small enough that a beach cleanup can be done annually, she added. “We have to be stewards of land and water.”

Mr. Wein and Ms. Lange approached Supervisor Gerry Siller, Police Chief Jim Read and Highway Superintendent Brian Sherman, all of whom offered support and actions that will make Saturday’s event possible.

They also reached out to businesses for prizes that will go to some of the local volunteers. Among those contributing gift cards are Pepe Martinez at STARs Café; Frank Venesina at Slice, the Island’s new pizza business; Cori Cass at Menhaden Lane LLC; Tom Spotteck at White Oak; and M. Wein Realty, operated by young Mr. Wein’s mother, Melina.

Among those receiving prizes will be the person who finds the most PPEs; the person who travels the farthest distance to help with the effort; and the person who spends the longest time cleaning.

In order to ensure an ample supply of gloves, bags and trash pickers, Mr. Wein asks that volunteers register either by calling him at 631-258-4555 or emailing him at [email protected]. You can also go to the No Germ Club website to register.

Volunteers should report to the Shelter Island School parking lot by 9 a.m. Saturday. They will be assigned to Wades Beach, Shell Beach, Menhaden Beach or the Ram Island Causeways. Collected trash will be brought back to the school parking lot where it will be collected and sorted in a safe manner, Mr. Wein said.

The event is slated to take place between 9 and 11 a.m. and volunteers must wear masks and social distance to protect their own health and that of their fellow volunteers.