Come Clean

Come Clean is an inspiration-based special projects team, whose sole focus is to improve the environment with local community efforts.  The size, scope, cost, and visibility of projects is highly variable, depending entirely on the inspiration for our projects.

The team began in 2008, when reusable shopping bags were a new thing.  The team was inspired to decrease the use of disposable shopping bags and hopefully reduce their unsightly appearance in our local environment.  In coordination with the (WBOT), Sullivan Renaissance, Emma Chase Elementary School, and the local Boy Scouts, the BKAA spearheaded an effort to raise over $10,000 to purchase and distribute custom designed reusable shopping bags.  The bags sported our tag line Come Clean — One Village at a Time and the WBOT logo.  Many of the shopping bags are still in use and visible today.

In 2009, we switched our focus to light bulbs. Using grants from Sullivan Renaissance and Orange & Rockland Utilities, we purchased 2000 compact fluorescent light bulbs and distributed them throughout Wurtsboro to business and families of local school children.

We visited Emma Chase Elementary School and conducted a training program for each of the 5th grade classes, showing how CFLs can provide more light with less energy. This effort likely saved the village over $150,000 in electricity costs and saved businesses and households the initial investment for purchasing the more expensive bulbs.

In 2011, we again branched out in a new direction, redesigning and rebuilding the garden in front of the Laundry in Wurtsboro.  This is a prominent business, with lots of round-the-clock visitors, so we added a bench, buckets for spent cigarettes, a thick bed of mulch, lots of new plants, planters, rain barrels, and an amazing custom-made climbing arbor for beautiful clematis.  The garden is filled with perennial plants that increase their splendor each year, along with self-seeding annuals, and yearly annual plantings.

In 2012, leveraging the success of 2011, we refreshed the laundry garden with new mulch and new plants and then expanded it to include a large new planter and five additional planters to spruce up the Wurtsboro Antiques building.  The planters are designed to coordinate with the laundry garden.  These two gardens, in conjunction with the Veteran’s Park, directly across the street, create a warm image for the village.

Also in 2012, the team began work with a BKAA environmental “team-mate”, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. The Conservancy has a field office in Bethel, NY, that was once a family farm.  The Conservancy uses the property not only as an office, but also for education, training and functions.  The Come Clean team worked with the Conservancy leadership to spruce up the yard to make it pleasing, welcoming, and to create natural inspiration.

In 2014, armed with another Sullivan Renaissance Grant, we coordinated with BKAA leadership, Emma Chase Elementary School, and the property owner at the corner of Haven Road and Route 209 to create a Garden that would serve as a “Welcome” point for the Basha Kill.  This “Gateway to the Basha Kill” project included two varieties of evergreen trees, shrubs, perennials, including herbs, ground cover, and bulbs, as well as annuals, along with Bird Houses and rock effects.  In spite of a dreadfully hot, dry summer, the trees not only survived, but flourished.  The garden is supplied with fresh annuals each summer to ensure a welcoming visual inspiration for visitors, deer, woodchucks, and nesting swallows, alike.

-by Cathy Dawkins and Patricia Diness