Green Up Day

50-Year-Old Vt. Litter Cleanup to Continue, With Changes

Green Up Day, a tradition that has run a half-century, is set for this weekend--after it was postponed because of COVID-19

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A long-running Vermont tradition that the pandemic postponed will continue this weekend—with changes.

Green Up Day is believed to be the nation's oldest statewide beautification project. More than 22,000 volunteers took part last year, according to the organization.

Hundreds of tons of litter are generally picked up from along 13,000 miles of roadway, Green Up Day said, including tossed cans and bottles, food wrappers, abandoned tires, and more.

The goal is simple: to leave cities and towns better-looking.

This year, the event's 50th, COVID-19 forced the effort to be pushed from the first Saturday in May to the last.

"Green Up Day is happening," executive director Kate Alberghini said. "The pride that people take in their surroundings here is just incredible. And I don't think I could cancel or stop Green Up Day even if I tried."

The distinctive green bags will stay the same, but there are changes to keep in mind during the pandemic, Alberghini noted.

Large gatherings are off, such as Jericho's popular community breakfast. However, that community's core cleanup will continue.

"I think there is a sense of satisfaction when you're done for the day, and everyone has done it on the same day," observed Jericho's town clerk, Jessica Alexander. "So Jericho has a new fresh face!"

In Burlington, like elsewhere, the city issued a plea to follow physical distancing guidelines to keep the spread of the virus low.

That means no fanning out in groups with a bunch of other households, as volunteers do most Green Up Days.

"Instead, we're really focusing on this as a family activity," said Cindi Wight, the director of the Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Department. "This is something you can do together as a family—find areas right near your home and try to make them look a lot nicer when you're done."

Masks are strongly recommended if you are going to be around other people you don't live with, Green Up Day's executive director added.

Alberghini said whenever Vermont's critical tourism economy can fully reopen safely, having clean and welcoming roadways is important for the state's reputation.

She encouraged Vermonters to pick up litter every day of the year, not just on Green Up Day.

More information on Green Up Day can be found on the organization's website.

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