9,615 Square Miles of Spring Cleaning

Everybody spring cleans. But nobody does it like Vermonters. We take that art to a whole new level and actually spring clean our entire state.

It's a tradition called Green-Up Day, and we've done it every year since 1970. On the first Saturday in May, you fall out of bed, drag a comb across your head, find your way downstairs, and go round up the neighbors. Somebody runs to the town green to pick up big green garbage bags provided for the event, and when they get back, we all walk along the roadsides, into the fields, and through the woods stuffing those bags full of all the trash and litter we can find.

Once we've cleaned up our own little corner of town, we drop the bags off at the nearest intersection, and they're picked up by local waste companies for free. Voila. The entire state cleaned in a single morning.

Green-Up Day is all kinds of good things wrapped up in one. It brings neighbors together for a good common cause and reinforces a vital sense of community that often continues at barbeques and other festivities afterward. It also shows what happens globally when everyone acts locally. I'll clean up my road, you clean up yours, and together we'll have the whole county spiffed up in just a few hours. With everyone doing a little, we end up doing a lot.

Without much fuss or hoopla, Green-Up Day is a homegrown grassroots idea that works, and there's no reason it can't work everywhere else. Aside from buying the bags and wrangling some in-kind donations from local waste haulers, all you need to do is spread the word and spend a few hours on a designated Saturday to don a pair of work gloves and take a nice walk. It can also be done any time of the year.

It's a community-wide day of concrete action that makes a meaningful difference that everyone can see. Your state doesn't need mountains or lakes or quaint rural villages to be as pretty as Vermont. It just needs someone like you to get everyone together for a little cleaning in the great outdoors.

written by:

the Inkslinger

The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!

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