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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Picking up roadside trash

Trash from 3/4 mile of local roads (I removed the redeemables and recyclables).
For the last few years I have been walking around my neighborhood here in rural Maine picking up roadside trash every week.  While there is little to no trash on my small dead-end road with about a dozen houses on it, the moment I get out onto the more widely traveled roads I find a lot.  In fact, every week I fill a 15 gallon trash bag by walking about a half mile in each direction on the three roads that intersect the end of my road.  Generally, I find a lot of beer cans and bottles, miniature liquor bottles, cigarette packs, and general fast food packaging and other trash.  Here in Maine I can redeem most of the bottles and cans for 5 cents each so I often pay myself over a dollar a week.  The rest gets sorted into my trash or recycling binsDuring my walk this afternoon, I was thinking about all the reasons that I do this and I thought I would share them with my readers in the hopes that I can inspire some of you to follow suit and pick up trash in your neighborhood if you live in a neighborhood where outdoor trash is an issue.
  • Community service - I value my community, and Maine is known as "Vacationland" so it is important to keep our roads clean and attractive.
  • Environmental stewardship - 'nuff said.
  • Treasure hunt - as I walk searching for distinctive shiny or bright objects, there is an element of treasure hunting and the reward is often 5 cents.
  • Good exercise - I generally walk between two and 3 miles and the roads are hilly enough that I raise my heart rate and work up a sweat even on cold days.  It's not just walking but all the bending and stretching that makes it a good aerobic workout.  I often stray out into the fields on each side of the road where windblown trash shows up and there is some scrambling around to get there and back.
  • Visible activism - by being highly visible on the road and picking up trash I am hoping to inspire other people to follow suit, or at least raise their awareness of the issue.
  • Grateful neighbors - every now and then a neighbor will stop and say "thank you".  It's not the main reason I do this but it's nice to be acknowledged.