It was an excuse to spring clean, help the environment and guard against identity theft, and Westporters took full advantage.

On Saturday morning, dozens of town residents showed up in the parking lot at the Westport/Weston Health District offices to dispose of accumulated personal records and outdated, sensitive documents for the "Shred Day" program organized by the town.

Facilitating the shredding with a truck from Secure EcoShred of Brookfield. Drop-off was limited to three boxes 12-by-18 inches or five paper bags. There was a $5 fee per car and participants were able to watch their papers get shredded via a monitor built into the side of the truck. Volunteers from the Staples High School Service League of Boys were on hand to help break down boxes and guide drop-off.

Town Clerk Patty Strauss, who in that post leads the records management committee for the town, helped coordinate the event. "We use EcoShred for town projects," she said. "This is also their community service effort and they donate their time." Strauss added that this was the third annual Shred Day and that the idea was hatched by a Westport resident who wrote a letter to First Selectman Gordon Joseloff saying that her daughter goes to college in North Carolina and participates in a community shred day there. The resident asked why there wasn't a similar project in Westport.

"It's environmentally responsible, a great way to clean out an attic, but also key to preventing identity theft," Strauss said. "We do this at this time of year for several reasons: It's spring so you're already doing spring cleaning, it's close to Earth Day and it's just after tax time when you have a lot of financial documents laying about."

Strauss said the event has proven popular. "Last year, we had about 120 cars come through, and that was in pouring rain," she said. "As of 9 a.m. this year, we already had 25 cars roll up."

Michael Martinez, EcoShred operations manager, who was onsite operating the shredder, commented on the shredder equipment. "There's a commercial shredder built inside the truck," he said. "The truck will hold six tons of paper. As long as the material is paper, it will take anything."

Town resident Philip Mathews was one of the earlier arrivals. "This is a great service to the community and always done with a smile," he said. "I'm dropping off business and personal finance papers. This is responsible disposal, and it's terrific that young people are helping. It's a great training ground toward citizenship."

Another resident, Jon Polayes, was disposing of old tax documents. "This is a good idea for security reasons and is environmentally preferable," he said. "I could have shredded at home, but it takes longer."

Terrence Kelley pulled up with several bags full of bank and credit card statements. "I constantly do this at home myself, but this is easier -- you just drop off 1, 2, 3."