PITTSFIELD — With a passion for the environment, Pittsfield resident Ethan Milette created an initiative that has picked up over 3,500 gallons of trash throughout the city over the past 15 months.

“I’ve always been interested in the environment and wanted to do something to help out,” Milette said. “After seeing all the litter throughout Pittsfield, I thought of doing what I can to help clean up.”

Milette started picking up trash at Burbank Park on Onota Lake last September as a senior at Taconic High School, and now is studying environmental science at Berkshire Community College.

“It felt good to see all the trash in bags you’ve collected,” Milette said. “It seems small, but really adds up. It felt good to do something like this and, hopefully, inspire others.

“As high school student, you don’t think you have a lot of abilities, but once I did that, I was a bit more confident in what I could do.”

As bags piled up, people decided to join Milette in his quest to clean Pittsfield and the Clean Up Crew 413 was born.

“Usually, we have around five people or so come to our cleanups and pick up roughly 100 bags of garbage in just an hour,” Milette said. “We do weekly pickups, but it is difficult to plan during the school year. We go out several times a week throughout the summer.”

Milette created an Instagram page titled “cleanupcrew413” in November to get his message out and motivate others. He has 1,800 followers and has inspired others to follow in his footsteps.

“I get a lot of messages saying thank you and others are saying they’re going out to clean up [after seeing my posts],” Milette said. “I’ve been tagged in random posts by people I don’t know who said I inspired them to start cleaning up.”

After a cleanup, Milette spends the next couple of hours sorting recyclables out of the trash. What he pulls out the most are 50-milliliter liquor bottles, often called “nips.”

“They’re very littered items, and I would like to raise awareness by using them to create a sculpture,” Milette said. “I have six garbage bags full of just nip bottles.”

Milette added that he is looking for people to help collect nip bottles and create the sculpture. The easiest way to reach him is via cleanupcrew413 on Instagram.

“I never did this for the recognition,” Milette said. “I just wanted to help the environment.

“All you need is gloves and a bag to pick up as much trash as you can.”

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and


Sports Reporter

As a lifelong Pittsfield resident, Jake gravitates to the nearest field or park. He joined The Eagle as a paperboy in 2005 and worked his way up, becoming a full-time reporter in 2018. He's currently a sports reporter.