Thursday, June 24, 2010

Litter picking is an All Season Sport - Litter Survey @ sensitive areas in South Burlington, Vermont

How do you sustain and maintain Green Mountains? It takes lots of rain and sunshine. Our rain quota filled in July (and then some). Now we need some Sun! How do we keep South Burlington Clean as well as Green? Litter prevention and litter round up is the Vermont way. Volunteers picked up tons of trash on Green Up Day filling their quota (and then some). Now we need prevention measures to keep our neighborhoods, city streets, and streams Green and Clean. Keeping a small trash bag in the car is one way to reduce the likelihood of trash thrown out the window.

As much as we want August, September, October, and beyond to be sunny, we know, we need rain periodically to keep our beautiful scenery green. So it is with maintaining and sustaining a clean urban environment-pleasant to view, safe for nature’s outdoor creatures and us. Eleven ecologically sensitive stream areas cleaned up on Green Up Day now, only two months later show the need for litter prevention diligence and a pick up a piece every day attitude.

These eleven ecologically sensitive sites today average 14 pieces of litter per a 50 linear foot walk with some areas as high as 24 pieces of trash per 50 linear feet; much improved over the pre-Green Up Day defamation but worse than the pristine condition immediately following the volunteers cleanup effort in May. What has since accumulated may suggest to us where to focus our prevention work.

Heavy trash (tires, barrels, shopping carts, 55-gallon drums) were evident in May but not so now. The break out of trash at these sites in July was as follows: Takeout food or drink wrappers/containers (40%), non redeemable bottles or cans-predominately water bottles (16%), plastic-non food packaging ( 15%), cardboard or paper-non food packaging (10%), redeemable bottles or cans (9%), cigarette packaging (3%), automobile parts (2%), clothing/cloth (1%), miscellaneous (5%).

Good news: all that rain in July has assured tall green growth in these areas hiding for now much of the litter. The absence of heavy trash is also good news. On the not so good side at least one site (Market Street) was laden with five large partially torn garbage bags of household trash. In addition, another location, (Bartlett Bay road) had litter directly in a stream. Also remember where the litter may be hidden now, it may be in view later in the year, either due to seasonal vegetation die off or lawn mower hits (multiplying the littered effect) or due to the wind transporting the litter to our sidewalks, streets and yards.

Like the sun finding its way through the clouds, each of us can be lookouts for litter hot spots. Then individually or as community groups, we can pick up a piece every day, or at least not wait until next May to maintain and sustain our Green and Clean urban environment. Is your neighborhood litter free?