It's been a long, cold winter, so long in fact that the ditches and shady hollows of many local roads are still holding onto rotting snow. Yet in places where the snow has receded, it is clear that some greening up is called for.
Green Up Day, Vermont's annual rite of spring – when citizens take to the roadsides to clean up a winter's worth of litter – is productive and cathartic in a way. It's good to clean up the sides of the roads.
It is good for the environment, good for the aesthetics of how we present ourselves to the world, and good for us when the ditches are clean.
But it is also infuriating so see just how much garbage is flung out of cars into ditches, the woods and the sides of the road. It is infuriating and shocking. And patterns emerge. The same garbage gets tossed in the same spots year after year. Ask any family or people who regularly patrol their own road or a specific spot along their road.
Recently a group of friends walked a four-mile loop that they walk several times each year but specifically walk on the first really nice warm day to pick up the winter's worth of trash.
All were carrying at least two good-sized bags and all were wearing gloves. At the halfway point they had to empty their bags into a dumpster so they could continue. They found the same beer bottle configurations at the exact same locations they did last year. Same type of beer, same oversize bottles, same two pitching them out the window locations between other houses where no one would see. Aggravating.
Perhaps there is no way to teach people who chuck their garbage out the car window that that is just wrong and that it affects all of us and our environment. Perhaps there is no way to teach manners to people once they are old enough to drive cars. There are fines for littering, but that requires catching them.
Until Neighborhood Watch for littering patrols are created, Vermonters and Valley residents will have to continue to get down and dirty in the ditches. Often the trademark bright-green bags for Green Up trash are available in advance of the official event.
Take advantage of the sunshine and get some bags (and gloves) and green it up.