Tyler’s Two Cents: Thoughts from Behind the Bar is a weekly lifestyle column, written by Tyler Bernadyn, that will appear every Tuesday on What’sUpNewp this summer.
This past Saturday night as I was leaving work, three young ladies and a young man were seated on the front stoop of Midtown eating Subway sandwiches and pizza. One of the girls, who happened to be highly intoxicated, proceeded to drop her sandwich on the ground, leave all her trash (napkins, bags, wrappers) in front of the restaurant and wipe her greasy fingers all over the glass doors. I decided to stop and confront the individual and when I called her out on littering, she picked up the sandwich, hit me in the face with it, dumped her friend’s remaining three pizza slices over my head and proceeded to call me a multitude of slurs that are certainly not appropriate for this editorial. That’s right, I was assaulted with a cold cut combo for calling out someone for littering. I really wish I knew the name of the girl so I could put her on blast but karma always finds a way of coming back around and I’m sure she has a ton heading in her direction.
Littering has become an overwhelming epidemic in our beautiful city by the sea. The drunk shenanigans that take part post 1 AM are largely to blame, as bar patrons stumble towards Via Via like the zombies from The Walking Dead, only to leave their trash strewn throughout Thames St and Ann St. As a former resident of Ann St., walking down the road to work after a weekend and avoiding the trash thrown about the street is very similar to playing hop-scotch. It’s a frustrating scene, especially when trash receptacles are readily available and conveniently placed throughout downtown to aid in avoiding this issue.
If you know me, you know that I frequent Reject’s beach on a close to daily basis. For the most part, everyone who visits that small strip of sand does a great job cleaning up their mess. There has been recent mumblings from the folks at Bailey’s about the amount of cans and bottles being emptied out of the trash cans that the beach club provides to the public area of the beach. Putting a stop to drinking on the beach is an uphill battle and something that is seemingly inevitable to continue regardless of whether it’s at Reject’s, Second, Gooseberry, etc. but making sure that those partaking are being responsible with their waste is essential, especially on our beautiful shorelines. I know that I’d much rather have trash cans full of empty beer bottles than glass and trash strewn across a beach that I visit daily.
This is an editorial I never envisioned myself writing, but I think it’s important to mention and hopefully this piece will deter just one or two people from littering in this community. Last night as I was catching up on local happenings after work, I read that Middletown Town Council voted unanimously to work directly with Newport to draft an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags, which is a small but essential step in the right direction. Last year, City Council enacted an ordinance banning cigarettes from public places such as the Cliff Walk, local beaches and parks. Measures are being taken from the top-down, but it is everyone’s responsibility to clean up after themselves and take pride in their community.
Local volunteers and groups such as Clean Ocean Access are making strides in protecting our environment. Beach cleanups, awareness events and education on clean shorelines are only some of the ways that these individuals are making a difference and bringing an issue that is commonly overlooked to fruition. Since 2006, the local non-profit has conducted over 134 cleanups and removed over 56,000 pounds of marine debris. As amazing as organizations such as Clean Ocean Access are, you don’t have to be a member of an organization to make a difference. Simple, everyday tasks such as recycling your bottles and cans at home, making sure you clean up your trash after a picnic or day at the beach or picking up a water bottle from the sidewalk may inspire others to do the same.
At the end of the day, it’s really not all that hard. If you use it, throw it out afterwards. Keep trash off the street and rubbish off the beach. Not only are you affecting others around you but the native wildlife and ecosystems as well. It breaks my heart when I used to walk my dog to Ann Street Pier and see all the trash that’s washed up on the beach from boats in the harbor. We all need to make an effort to reduce our waste and diminish the notion that littering is acceptable. If we set an example and continue to do what we can to make a difference, hopefully others will follow. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it’s really not all that simple…
Tyler Bernadyn is a local hospitality professional, bartending at Midtown Oyster Bar Wednesday through Sunday nights on the Burgee Bar and at Caleb&Broad on Monday nights for their award winning $10 entree dinner special.
Tyler is a graduate of Providence College and a true Rhode Islander, born and bred.
Email him at TylerBernadyn@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram at @tylerbernadyn.