The 2022 edition of Green Up Day is set for Saturday, May 7, and it comes with a challenge to Vermonters.
“Many residents have been contacting the Green Up Vermont office, concerned about the amount of trash on the roadsides this spring, looking for Green Up Day supplies and information, and also a solution,” Green Up Vermont Executive Director Kate Alberghini said in a news release.
“I can't tell you the number of times I have heard, 'What kind of person thinks it is OK to roll down the window and toss their trash into the environment?'” she added.
Green Up Vermont is the nonprofit organization that helps coordinate the event.
Alberghini said that “it is indeed disappointing, and there is no good answer, other than continuing to work year-round on a variety of initiatives.”
Those measures include promoting Green Up Day and extending education about waste reduction.
Traditionally held on the first Saturday in May, the annual roadside cleanup effort sees Vermonters of all ages get outside and clean up miles of roads throughout the state. Inspired by the first Earth Day in 1970, Green Up Day is Vermont's largest all-volunteer, statewide, one-day event.
According to Green Up Vermont, last year that trash pickup increased by more than 70 percent as Vermonters cleaned 75 percent of the 13,086 miles of town roads in the state. Vermont's Interstates and state highways, some 2,709 miles, are cleaned each spring by the Agency of Transportation.
With more people expected to be involved this year in the first relatively normal Green Up Day since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the 2020 and 2021 cleanup efforts, Alberghini said the organization is “challenging more Vermonters, clubs, and businesses to get out and help us clean every mile!”
Alberghini said that the interest in Green Up Day this year is so great that “there are a few towns who have already run out of the signature Green Up Day bags and have requested more,” adding that many schools have resumed participation and are more interested than ever to do their part.
How does Green Up Day work? Volunteers fill trash bags with paper, cans, and roadside trash. (On this day, it is OK to mix trash and recyclables.) Once the area is clean, the green bags of trash can be left by the side of the road for townwide pickup by local highway crews or brought to designated collection points in some towns.
Volunteers are reminded to wear bright clothes and face oncoming traffic to help make themselves visible to drivers. Insect repellent, gloves, and boots are musts to protect against dirt and ticks. Masks are not required this year, but those concerned about the spread of the virus are welcome to wear them.
One can pick up bags this week in Brattleboro at Brown and Roberts, the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, Turning Point of Windham County, Brattleboro Subaru, the Brattleboro Food Co-op, and the West Brattleboro Fire Station, or at other sites in the county [see sidebar].
For more information about Green Up Day, visit greenupvermont.org.