In spite of an overcast Saturday morning, the outlook was bright and dispositions were sunny at Hinesburg’s and Charlotte’s Green Up Day efforts.
Volunteers with 40-gallon green bags were roaming the roadsides a couple of hours before the fog had lifted, retrieving the detritus dropped by those who couldn’t wait to get to a trashcan or recycling container and instead threw it wherever.
Vermont started the almost 50-year effort to clean up its highways, byways and roadsides on April 18, 1970. Now, Green Up Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in May.
In the days prior to Saturday in Hinesburg, on a map at the Carpenter-Carse Library, people signed up for stretches of road to clean up and marked them with colored markers. On Saturday morning at town hall, people were still signing up.
At noon, there was pizza for the volunteers at town hall. All the food was laid out. Things were ready for a celebratory feast.
“And it was noon, but there wasn’t one person there,” Chair Phil Pouech reported to the selectboard Monday night.
“Are you serious?” asked selectboard member Aaron Kimball.
After a pause, Pouech continued, “And then by about five after, there were about 15 or 20, and by quarter after, it looks like we had about 40 people.”
The selectboard members laughed and Kimball said, “That Phil can tell a story.”
Pouech said that he’s been working with Green Up Day for more than 20 years.
In an email, he said Hinesburg had about 80 roadside volunteers.
Green Up on Charlotte side of the fence
In Charlotte, things were hopping at the Quonset Hut at Charlotte Central School. People were bringing in their e-waste (electronics), tires that they picked up on the roadsides, recycling and redeemables.
This is the first year that Charlotte’s Green Up Day has featured a dunking station.
Abby Foulk said it was their inaugural try at separating recyclables and redeemables, since there is a 5-cent deposit that could be earned for redeemable bottles and cans.
And the dunking station was for rinsing them. Volunteers took ten 40-gallon bags of redeemables to Tenney Bottle Redemption.
Cars were also pulling up to take compost because Green Up Day was combined with the Charlotte Central School’s sixth annual bulk compost sale. Twelve volunteer shovelers dispensed compost into 5-gallon buckets.
The 8-year-old program has reduced the waste stream so much that it has eliminated at least one dumpster at the school. Foulk said. The dumpsters used to be emptied every week – now they are emptied every other week. The food scraps and paper products that are composted average about 125 pounds a week that eventually become compost for the school’s gardens.
Every week, the food scraps and other compostable stuff comes out to the composting shed in six to 12, 5-gallon buckets “in various stages of ‘ick’,” said community composting volunteer Karen Tuininga.
Charlotte Green Up Co-coordinator Kim Findlay said that preliminary estimates are that Charlotte volunteers filled 300 green bags of trash and removed 100 tires from the roadsides along with a bunch of scrap metal. Approximately 96 percent of the roads were picked up.