It's a good day to clean

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There's a downside to springtime in Vermont. All the crud leftover from winter, hidden for months by the snow — what little there is these days — becomes readily apparent. Before the green leaves come out, the view from our highways looks less like Howard Frank Mosher's "Where the Rivers Flow North" and more like Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."

Fortunately for us Vermonters, we have Green Up Day. Invented by Gov. Deane C. Davis in 1970 to keep Vermont from looking too much like New Jersey, it's a day where the community-minded get together to pick up trash along the roadsides. By 1979, a nonprofit was founded and tasked with organizing and supporting the Green Up efforts across the state.

Green Up Vermont's website, greenupvermont.org, contains all the information you could ever want on how to participate. Perhaps most helpful is the contact information for each town's Green Up Day coordinator. As far as public information goes, Green Up Vermont's website is one of the simplest and the best.

Some towns go an extra step and try to make picking up roadside garbage fun. Cookouts are hosted at drop-off sites and some even make a game out of it, awarding prizes based on the type and amount of trash collected.

It's been observed by some that enthusiasm for this event has waned over the years. With the recent "People's Climate March" on Washington, D.C. protesting the Trump administration's stance on global climate change it'll be interesting to see how many people get out with the green bags this year.

Pollution of any sort should be foremost in the minds of locals, what with the ongoing story about PFOA contamination in North Bennington and our neighbors in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. Often when we hear about water or soil contamination, it's somewhere else, someplace far off. With PFOA in the drinking water, the consequences of industrial carelessness and treating nature like a Dumpster become real.

What will probably govern Green Up Day turnout is Mother Nature itself. The National Weather Service is forecasting a 60 percent chance of rain on Saturday. The only thing worse that picking up garbage is picking up wet garbage, but we hope people make the effort all the same. Or, better, get out and Green Up beforehand. There's no rule against getting a jump on things.

We'd all like the spirit of Green Up Day to carry on throughout the year. Vermont's roadsides would look quite different if most people took a trash bag with them on their travels. Maybe a culture of not littering in the first place would eventually take hold and expand to more serious and less visible forms of pollution.

Then again, perhaps the key to Green Up Day's success is it's limited scope. A single day of everyone volunteering to pick up litter seems so much more manageable than what it will actually take to clean things up.

— The Bennington Banner

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