Fish-shaped trash bin unveiled at Iron Pier Beach

The Riverhead Anti-Litter Committee and Riverhead Town officials unveiled the Fish trash receptacle Monday afternoon at Iron Pier Beach in Jamesport — the first of its kind on Long Island. 

Designed by local artist and sculptor Clayton Orehek, the 4-foot by 6-foot wire container is designed to encourage beachgoers to “feed the fish” by properly disposing of their recyclable containers. 

“We hope it inspires everybody to keep our beaches clean and increase awareness,” said Deborah Wetzel, chair of the Riverhead Anti-Litter Committee. 

Ms. Wetzel said following a trash cleanup effort last spring, she was contacted by National Grid about community grant money the power company wanted to donate to help her organization with its mission. 

The committee members convened and one member, Jeanne Fallot, brought up the idea of a trash receptacle shaped like a fish. During her research, she came across “Yoshi” and “Goby the Fish” — two fish-shaped sculptures that were installed in India and Vietnam, respectively, with the same goal of encouraging the public to reduce ocean and beach pollution. 

After several meetings with the Riverhead parks department and Mr. Orehek, the committee agreed the fish-shaped trash bin would reside at Iron Pier Beach. National Grid awarded the town a grant of roughly $4,300 to complete the project. 

Riverhead Town Councilman Robert Kern said seeing Mr. Orehek’s seahorse sculpture exhibit at the 2021 Reflextions Art in the Park event at Grangebel Park convinced him the Riverhead artist would be the ideal candidate for the job. 

“He’s just an amazing artist and craftsman,” Mr. Kern said. “I’m really hoping kids will want to grab cans and bottles and feed the fish.” 

Mr. Orehek said his portfolio includes mostly public sculptures and artwork, so when he was approached with the idea of the trash receptacle, he said he wanted to create a “substantial” piece. 

There were several factors the artist needed to consider, such as ensuring the sculpture could hold a substantial amount of trash and be easy to empty. 

To address this, he said when it is time to remove the contents, the tail can be unlocked and the fish can be tipped onto its fins so the cans and bottles can slide out of its mouth into a bag. 

To go the extra, eco-friendly mile, Mr. Orehek said he tried to use as many sustainable materials as possible to craft the sculpture. For example, the mesh body is made from recycled plastic and the fish’s eyes are made of solar-powered landscape lights, which light up at night. 

Although there are no specific projects in the works currently, the Anti-Litter Committee is hoping to add more similar receptacles around town in the future. 

“I think when I see people using it, that’s going to feel good,” Mr. Orehek said. “[I hope] it will make people mindful to keep the place cleaner.”