How many times has a parent said that to a child? Most parents, no doubt, have lost count of the number of times those four words have been said.
Saturday is Green Up Day, when everyone in Vermont gets to go out and pick up after ourselves. It’s not just the children who green up, it’s adults as well. It’s become a time-honored tradition in this state, and rightfully so. Mobilizing an army of volunteers to clean up the state at the beginning of spring is something that has become ingrained in Vermont’s DNA.
Not many people in any part of the world can say they have a day set aside once a year to pick up trash along their roadsides. Vermonters can say that, and that it works. Green Up Day has been an effective, growing program for more than four decades. It’s something that everyone in Vermont can be proud of.
What’s a little puzzling, however, is that people still litter at all. Think about it: since childhood most Americans are told not to litter, not to leave their trash lying around, and to pick up. There have been extensive marketing campaigns, the catchphrases of which are burned into the country’s collective memory: “Give a hoot, don’t pollute”; “Pack it in, pack it out”; “Don’t be a litterbug”; and “Everyday is Earth Day.” All of these, plus many more, have been used repeatedly to remind people not to junk up the land.
Yet, litter and trash still line our roadsides. Why is that?
Why can’t people dispose of their trash properly? How hard can it be? Trash cans are virtually universal in this country. Buy gas, clean the trash out of the car. Don’t throw it alongside the road. It’s common sense, and common decency. Be responsible. It takes such little effort to do the right thing and not leave trash along the side of the road.
Don’t just take our word for it. Children around the state see the value in keeping Vermont green and clean. Below is the 2014 Green Up Vermont writing contest winning essay, penned by seventh-grader Kylie Dunshee, of the Hinesburg Community School.
Green Up Day
“Green Up Day is an important day to everyone. Green Up Day helps our planet to be cleaner and helps our planet to go into a positive direction. If we just let clutter build up disease could start or animals could go extinct from eating the clutter. If we continue to have Green Up Day our world will begin to be less cluttered every year. Green Up Day gets everyone in a positive mood to make the world a cleaner place. In conclusion, Green Up Day is a great tradition to make the world cleaner, hopefully one day there will be no more littering and everyone can throw away their trash responsibly.”
School children understand the need to keep the land clean. Why, after all these years, don’t more adults get it?