ANNA PAGE, 9, and her dad collected this huge pile of trash on a recent walk in their neighborhood which has inspired her call to action for kids and adults alike to pitch in and clean up their neighborhoods. (Courtesy Photo)


The following Op-Ed was submitted by Matthew Page, a member of the town’s Sustainability Committee. To learn more sustainability and recycling tips, visit

On a recent warm day, 9-year-old Anna Page—a fourth-grader at the Batch—thought she heard music floating in the air. Was it the sound of frogs ribbitting in the vernal pools down the hill from her house? Were the otters, beavers, and other animals living along the banks of the Ipswich River rehearsing show tunes? Or was there something else producing the mysterious music wafting up from the wetlands near her home?

Grabbing her trusty litter picker-upper, work gloves, and a several trash bags, Anna led her dad—garden cart in tow—down to the banks of the Ipswich River. Thankful it was a beautiful sunny day, Anna’s dad rolled up his sleeves as his daughter showed him what she had heard that afternoon: a symphony of trash.

Starting off slowly, the symphony started along Willow Street. As Anna’s tongs furiously clinked and clattered, the sound of plastic bottles and Dunkin’ Donut iced coffee cups landing in her cart echoed across the oxbow pond nearby. They were soon followed by the deep, booming bass notes of paint cans, a shovel head, and other rusty oddities that she spotted along the riverbank.

Turning right onto Elm Street, Anna’s symphony mellowed briefly before she crossed over the rusty bridge at the top of Washington Street. From there, her composition started its roaring finale: a flurry of staccato notes created by the sound of 65 nips and 25 plastic Seagram’s Seven bottles landing in her cart. The discovery of a wiffle bat, a plastic onion sack (onions included), and a few fluttery sheets of styrofoam lightened the mood as Anna and her dad began their trek home.

As exciting as it was, this symphony is not a source of pride for North Reading. Instead, it is a call to action. But what can we do? Here are Anna’s ideas:

  • For Kids: Grab a parent and organize your friends to go on a litter pick of your yard and neighborhood. You never know what strange things you will find! You can also volunteer for town-wide cleanups like the one planned for Sunday, May 19.
  • For Grown-Ups: Think about investing in a bigger recycling container that is compatible with automated curbside pickup systems that will come to North Reading someday. In the meantime, be sure to secure your recycling bins. On windy days, recycling can blow out of them.
  • For the town of North Reading: Install trash and recycling cans along Willow Street and near other conservation areas. Place temporary bins around the Town Common during events like the Memorial Day parade.

Just like Anna, we all have a stake in keeping our town beautiful and keeping repeat performances of this symphony of trash to a minimum.