With Earth Day fast approaching, the Ayer and Shirley Recycling Committees are joining forces to sponsor A Cleaner Ayer and Shirley, a day on which residents of both communities help beautify their towns by picking up roadside litter and separating out the recyclables.

This year's event, which includes the addition of small electronics and Styrofoam collection, is scheduled for Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in both towns.

In Shirley, the Shirley Recycling Center on Lancaster Road will serve as the place to pick up bags and deliver trash and recyclables. In Ayer there will be separate bags for trash and recycling, which can be picked up from and delivered to Depot Square.

Besides picking up routes and bags at each location, said Shirley Recycling Committee Chairwoman Dawn McCall, volunteers are needed to sort recyclables in Shirley at the recycling center from 1 to 2 p.m. All participants are urged to wear bright colors. Plastic gloves will be provided.

According to Ayer Recycling Committee Chairwoman Laurie Sabol, volunteers are also needed to promote the event within their local networks, such as parent and school groups, churches, Scouts and other community organizations.

"It would also be helpful to have people willing to survey their town for litter 'trouble spots,'" she said.


Other volunteers are needed to ask businesses to put promotional materials and posters in their windows; drive their own pickup trucks to haul recyclables and trash from Depot Square to the Ayer transfer station; and to assist with the cleanup committee.

The idea for the cleanup emerged six years ago from a collaboration between the two towns' recycling committees, and it has grown every year since. Last year, an estimated 200 volunteers between the two towns helped with the beautification project, which gathered some 400 large garbage bags of trash and recyclables collected from roadsides, parks and conservation areas.

Organized volunteer groups that helped included several Scout troops and the Human Rights Squad and Green Team from Ayer-Shirley Regional High School.

Individual volunteers who helped coordinate the massive volunteer effort included Martha Dean, Dan Demille, Shawna Graham, Kim Krieser, Melissa Macdonald and Ruth Maxant. An extra special effort was made by Ayer Transfer Station Foreman Andrew Jackson, who made two runs to the transfer station to haul all the trash and recycling picked up in Ayer.

Other participants included representatives from Conservation Services Group, a company that conducts free home energy audits through MassSave, and Transformations Inc., a business in Townsend that installs solar electricity systems and builds zero energy homes.

Enhancing the event was a display of art created by local schoolchildren with recycled materials, or with a focus on Earth Day. The display was made possible with the support of many teachers and parents.

"This year, we're thrilled to be able to offer foam (also known as Styrofoam) collection, courtesy of ReFoamIt," said Sabol.

Now operating out of All-American Recycling in Ayer, ReFoamIt accepts clean foam of most types six days a week at no charge. They also offer pickup service at a nominal fee.

All-American Recycling will also be on hand to collect "anything with a cord," as they say. Some items will be accepted at no charge; others require a small fee."

Sabol said that residents can visit www.refoamit.com/WhatCanBeRecycled to find out what specific types of foam will and will not be accepted.

"We're hoping for great weather and a great turnout this year!" she added.

If you or your organization would like to help with this year's town beautification event, contact Sabol at ayerrecycles@gmail.com or 978-496-5839, or McCall at recycling@shirley-ma.gov or 978-425-6132.