Members of Montclair State University’s Environmental Club got together to help clean up around the university on Feb. 9.
Charlene Ramos, a junior business administration major and Environmental Club president, was the head of the group.
Ramos said the reason why she wanted to get the club together to clean was because of a tree that was spray-painted and decorated with glass bottles back in November. Located right outside the entrance to Bohn Hall, the tree is allegedly part of a project in which a professor granted students permission to spray-paint it, claiming the rain would wash it away, according to Ramos.
“The jars are broken now, so there’s broken glass surrounding this vandalized tree and this can cause harm to our surrounding wildlife and it can enter our waterways if it were to enter through sewage drains,” Ramos said. “We believe that whoever was behind this must be held accountable and be responsible enough to clean up the area that they damaged by cleaning up the broken mason jars and making sure that the paint does wash off as they had claimed.”
Deputy Chief of University Police Kieran Barrett said the Montclair State Police Department received a report back in November detailing the incident. The student who spray-painted the tree said it was for an art project.
“This would not be classified as an environmental crime but it may be a conduct issue,” Barrett said. “I would agree 100% that we need to be conscious of our impact. We will work with our Grounds Department to give care toward this particular tree.”
The club’s cleanups happen monthly, and this was the first cleanup of the spring 2022 semester. With reusable bags in hand, along with protective gloves, students adventured in small teams and went solo all around campus to pick up garbage left by other students.
Masks and plastic bottles were the most common items students found. Much of the trash was buried in bushes and leaves to the side of the sidewalks and roads.
However, car brakes, Dunkin’ bags, an old campus recreation flag and an empty box of Tito’s Vodka were some of the stranger things found as students cleaned their campus.
“Last semester we found a boiler and a bed,” Ramos said. “Also, a refrigerator that was split in half. One half was in the forest and the other was by the dumpster.”
Ramos said 19 people participated in the event on Wednesday, each collecting two to three bags of trash.
“These clean ups are important to us because we want students to realize the sheer magnitude of trash that we have littered throughout Montclair State,” Ramos said. “We hope that having this hands-on experience will resonate with the students and make them more motivated to practice proper waste disposal, whether it be recycling or straight to the garbage bin.”
Mason Ricciotti, a freshman business administration major who was at the cleanup, said he’s just happy to help.
“Honestly, it’s pretty crazy,” Ricciotti said. “This is my first semester doing the Environmental Club, and seeing all this trash, it’s just crazy.”