(NECN: Jack Thurston, Middlesex, Vt.) - Vermont's governor took to Interstate 89 in Middlesex, Vt. Friday morning to wage a war on litterbugs. He picked up trash, and this weekend, hopes to have a whole army of trash collectors behind him. "We've got the most beautiful state in the country, and we want it to remain beautiful," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Saturday is Green Up Day in Vermont. It's a more than 40-year old tradition where volunteers canvass their cities and towns around the state to bag rubbish that's blighting roadways, parks, and woods. "I like to say it's people cleaning up their communities for the community of Vermont," explained Melinda Vieux, the president of the committee that organizes Green Up Day.
Flooding over the past week has made Vermont's garbage problem even worse, as swollen rivers take trash from miles and miles around and wash it all into Lake Champlain. Eventually, it ends up on the shore line. "Litter is a worldwide problem," Vieux sighed.
A tire, an old boot, a milk jug, food wrappers, balls, and ironically, a trash bin with a sticker saying pick up litter have all washed onto the Burlington waterfront in recent days. When Lake Champlain's record-high flood waters recede, it's expected they'll reveal even more junk. "I am amazed and have no answer as to why people litter," Vieux said.
Along with Green Up Day participants, crews from public works, parks, and transportation departments will get Vermont clean again, but Governor Shumlin wants to send a message: "If folks didn't throw trash out into public roadways, we wouldn't be picking it up," he said.
Shumlin hopes keeping Vermont green will not be limited to the first Saturday in May.