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Vermonters gear up for Green Up Day

Green Up Vermont is getting ready for their biggest day of the year on Saturday.
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 8:15 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermonters will be out and about on Saturday trying to make the Green Mountains a little greener.

“I started getting calls very early, people wanting bags and wanting to get out, they are very committed,” said Kate Alberghini, Green Up Vermont’s executive director. She says Green Up Day is year-round, but May 1 is the big day. “Resounding excitement about people being able to get out and help in their environment and help in their communities.”

Alberghini says even last year, peak pandemic, they had over 14,000 volunteers that picked up over 241 tons of trash. While they can’t predict this year, already over a dozen towns have asked for extra bags to distribute, even if it looks different than past years. “We are still under that same realm of caution with social distance and masks and not doing the whole celebratory things we normally get to do on Green Up Day,” said Alberghini.

A common concern of Vermonters though is materials like recyclables that aren’t getting disposed of correctly. “So, by statute, Green Up Day is allowed to put all things in a bag and throw it away,” said Alberghini.

“There is a specific exemption for litter clean-ups like Green Up Day,” said Josh Kelly, the materials management section chief with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. He says the exemption is for two reasons. One, often recyclables found outside are too contaminated to be put in the recycling stream. And two, they can have materials inside of them that are dangerous to those cleaning or emptying them.

“Vermonters are really motivated to recycle and that is great,” said Kelly. He says towns can set up cleaning and recycling stations and if a can or bottle is in good shape, people are encouraged to seek a recycling option. But Kelly also says much like why the bottle bill and litter law are in place, care for natural resources is year-round. “I encourage people to do Green Up Day year-round and just to really recycle the right things and know that safely disposing of waste is still important.”

Green Up Vermont has a new partner this year in the U.S. Forest Service. Woodsy the Owl, whose slogan is “give a hoot, don’t pollute,” is now a part of the ranks in Vermont to attract younger Vermonters. The owl matches Vermont’s goal of cleaning up the state and preserving our natural areas. Green Up is also starting a Tik Tok campaign as well, hoping to show that keeping Vermont green is not only vital, but fun.

Alberghini says it’s the young people that keep this tradition alive. “We have to continue to encourage the mindset that clean environments are really important, not only for our health, but for our economy. For just our way of life here in Vermont, it’s something that we really cherish, I know I do living here all my life, and we live we work we play outside and in our environment, so it’s really important,” she said. They also did their poster art contest, and new this year is a jingle contest and a video competition for young Vermonters to get involved in.

This is the 51st year and Alberghini says it’s up to younger folks to ensure another 51 years ahead.

In Burlington, if you haven’t been able to get your bag you can get it the day of. They will be available at the St Josephs School, Miller Center, Burlington Subaru, or Salmon Hole Park from 8 a.m. until noon.

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