Editorial: Plan to make Green Up fun

With the late spring snowpack mostly gone and the grass and flowers springing to life along Vermont’s roadsides, drivers also notice Winter’s detritus — bottles, cans, cardboard, paper, tires, plastics of all sorts. It’s hard to imagine tossing such trash out the window of anyone’s vehicle, so we’ll be kind and assume it blew out the back of a pickup, or accidentally slipped out of the hands of a youngster, fell off a trailer or overfilled truck cab — any sort of accidental mishap to cause the despoiling of Vermont’s countryside.

Surely, no one does this on purpose, right? Or maybe not (see below.)

But what does happen purposely is a concerted annual effort by Vermonters to clean up the mess. Since 1970, many Vermonters have considered it their duty to chip in by walking a few miles of roads near their homes and putting trash in the ubiquitous green bags.

This year that day is Saturday, May 6. In last week’s Addison Independent we published a list of Green Up Day coordinators for each county town, along with town activities and local contacts. That information was presented on the second page of the Volunteer Section (2C) in last week’s issue and can be found online at https://bit.ly/3Aw5g6b. We’ll provide an updated list of town coordinators in next Thursday’s issue.

And while we all want to believe that no one litters intentionally, Green Up Vermont Executive Director Kate Alberghini offered these three “litter” statistics in the hopes of spurring on volunteers and town efforts:

  • 85% of littering is the result of individual attitudes.
  • A strong contributor to littering is the prevalence of existing litter.
  • Communities that have on-going clean-up efforts have lower rates of littering behavior throughout the year.

Or put another way: the more town residents we can get to clean up their own streets and neighborhoods, the more ingrained we are as communities to resist the temptation to toss trash out the window. The result is a cleaner, more attractive streetscape, which brings smiles and good cheer each time we pass by.

So, while many residents are predisposed to do their parts on Green Up Day and fill a bag or three, better yet, work to make it fun. With a little planning you could host a neighborhood Green Up party, do a trash scavenger hunt, plant a few fivers in plastic bottles for teens to find, and get everyone you can to participate. That’s how change happens.

— Angelo Lynn

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