BRATTLEBORO >> Taking out the trash can be a tedious chore for some, but on Saturday it is a joy and proud duty for Vermonters.
Citizens throughout the state will celebrate the 46th annual Green Up Day in their local communities by picking up trash on the sides of the road, banks and rivers. Local businesses and non-profit organizations are getting involved by offering their hands, time and spaces to better the environment around them by keeping the earth clean. Towns have designated areas where volunteers can pick up bags to be used for garbage collection in their local neighborhoods or where cleanup is needed.
"There's a lot of garbage in town, recently I did a walking audit and it was incredible how much debris and garbage had accumulated on sides of the road," said Robin Rieske who is one of the coordinators in Brattleboro for Green Up Day. "It's also a great neighborhood building activity to meet each other and a way for people to feel they can contribute to their community."
Rieke recently completed this walking audit for the sidewalks and crosswalks and said that among that observation she could not ignore the trash spread throughout town.
There are four designated locations in Brattleboro where people can pick-up their garbage bags and also enjoy refreshments of coffee and treats. Brattleboro sites include the corner of Elliot and Elm Street (Restless Rooster Café and sponsored by F.E.E.T. Neighbors), Brattleboro Subaru, the Firehouse in West Brattleboro and the Brattleboro Co-op. Locations will have bags from 8 a.m. until Noon.
When people are finished "Greening Up," they are encouraged to bring the bags home where normal trash pick up takes place or to the dumpster at Subaru or other Green Up sites that may host a dumpster. All Green Up Day participants are welcome to attend a barbecue at Brattleboro Subaru at 12:30 p.m. where grilled food is free and the person with the most collected bags will win a grand prize. It is estimated that the cook out will last two hours.
This Vermont tradition was launched in 1970 by Governor Deane Davis. According to a press release from Rieske, thousands of Vermonters are expected to come together and clean up roadside litter and tidy up public spaces.
"This is a beautiful state and it's a shame to see it get all trashed up, so anything I can do to get it looking pretty, gets me psyched about Green Up Day," said Nancy Barber, who is one of the coordinators at the West Brattleboro location.
Rieske reminds Saturday volunteers to be safe while picking up trash and advises to wear gloves. Green Up Vermont instructs participants not to pick up or touch needles or other hazardous waste such as "Meth Lab containers." VTrans has released an app for the public to report issues on State Highways. If volunteers are "Greening Up" a State road and find needles or hazardous waste, report it at http://vtrans.vermont.gov/click2fix or download their new App to report it. Rieske also notes to "be smart" and wear bug repellent and sun screen if needed and wear appropriate clothing if travelling in the woods or high grass where ticks may be located.
Some community members such as HCRS, New Chapter and the Cub Scout Pack 447 are expected to have large group participating from their organization for Green Up Day as well. Rieske said she expects to see decent amount of youth this year as Mount Snow has a program for the youth where they can when free lift tickets if they participate in two substance abuse prevention activities and perform acts of community service.
"Green Up Day is a way to get kids the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way," said Rieske.
While there are four locations in Brattleboro there are several others throughout Windham County and the rest of Vermont. William Brown of Grafton who is the president of the Grafton Improvement Association, feels that though their town is rather clean, it still is important to participate in the event.
"We keep our town pretty clean as it is, there are no major highways so not a lot of people driving by throwing things out the window," said Brown. "But Green Up Day does help cleanup all the trash along the side of the road, because a few beer cans here and there looks terrible."
In Grafton, bags can be picked up at the Town Office and then brought to the Town Garage where there will be a dumpster and ice cream for volunteers. Brown notes at least one person will be on every street who will get people together and police them on that street.
Rockingham is another one of Windham County's larger cities that will be participating in the event, and Guy Payne of Saxtons River believes Vermonters pride themselves in taking care of the planet.
"It's certainly important, we as a state historically value conservation and the natural beauty, that's part of our brand, and this is a time to cleanup stuff that gets thrown out of cars or that gets blown around by wind," said Payne who is also the co-chair with Amy Howlett for Rockingham's Green Up day. They both serve on the Rockingham Conservation Commission as well. "Unfortunately some folks, not a large number, will go on to dump tires, bags of trash and other people will have to go and clean it up. It's frustrating, but good to know that you cleaned it up."
For information about other participating towns and their bag pick-up locations, visit www.greenupvermont.org under "How to Participate."
Vermont Coffee Company is the official Green Up Day coffee sponsor again this year.
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275