Green Up Day: One man’s trash ... is another one’s garbage
by Lauren Harkawik
May 05, 2017 | 2307 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This group in Marlboro collected a large pile of trash during Green Up Day in 2013.
This group in Marlboro collected a large pile of trash during Green Up Day in 2013.
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WILMINGTON- Kathy Larsen can’t remember when she started acting as coordinator for Green Up Day, but she estimates it’s been about 20 years. “The selectboard appoints me every year,” says Larsen. “But I’m agreeable to it. I’ve loved doing it all these years. It’s a great opportunity.”

As most Vermonters know, Green Up Day is a day in early May when communities come together to clean litter from roadways and other outdoor spaces. “The idea is to get out when the snow has melted but before the vegetation has grown in for the summer,” says Larsen. “While we can still see what needs to be cleaned up.”

On Saturday, in towns across the state, members of communities will come together to “green up” - it’s often used colloquially as a verb - and in doing so, will beautify their parts of the state. In Wilmington, volunteers will meet at Buzzy Towne Park starting at 9 am. There, they’ll be given assignments. Larsen and her co-coordinator Rebecca Sweeney have already figured out where volunteers are most needed. Larsen puts a letter in The Deerfield Valley News each year asking for suggestions about areas that need some TLC.

“People let me know where we should clean, or they let me know about areas they plan to clean before Green Up Day where we won’t be needed,” says Larsen. She then plots routes on a road map of Wilmington and assigns groups of volunteers to specific areas. She says she does her best to cover the whole town. Volunteers can work for several hours if they want, or they can help for just a little while. “Every little bit helps,” says Larsen. “People can contribute in big or small ways. Even if you only help for 20 minutes, 20 minutes of picking up litter is a lot of litter.”

Larsen says that seeing several generations working together to volunteer is always a highlight of Green Up Day, and that seeing younger people becoming involved is particularly rewarding. She notes Mount Snow’s “Choose sNOw” program, which educates teens about substance abuse prevention. The program awards participants a discounted lift pass for the following ski season in exchange for attendance at substance abuse seminars and participation in Green Up Day. “Through that, we always get new young people involved every year,” says Larsen. “It’s a nice way to keep kids involved.”

Larsen says one of her favorite things about Green Up Day is the enthusiasm of the community, noting that it’s not uncommon for people to ask her for bags to do work in advance if they’re busy the day of. “They really want to participate even though they can’t do it on Saturday,” says Larsen.

In addition to bringing the community together and beautifying the town, Larsen says she thinks the effort discourages future littering, too. “It encourages people to keep the roads clean,” says Larsen. “When you see that the roadsides are not littered, you’re not as apt to litter. It sets the stage of another year of keeping Vermont beautiful.”

Those who wish to volunteer in Wilmington this year may pick up bags and an assignment at Buzzy Towne Park in Wilmington starting at 9 am on Saturday. Around 10:30 am, the coordinators will move to the old high school, where they’ll serve hot dogs and soda to volunteers until around 12:15 pm. Green Up efforts are also happening around the valley. Those who wish to participate in other towns may visit greenupvermont.com for more information.

The event is rain or shine, and as of this writing, the forecast is predicting rain for Saturday. “It’s rare that Green Up Day is a nice sunny day,” says Larsen. “We’ve had lots of rainy days. But that’s OK. Hey, we live in Vermont - we know what to expect.”
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