Friday, April 12, 2013

Vermont Land Trust Recognition Award [Litter Guru]. South Burlington, Vermont


  Bernie Paquette receives the South Burlington Land Trust 4th Annual Award
from Sarah Dopp, SBLT President









Bernie's oral acceptance  

Sarah, and all South Burlington Land Trusts members, Thank you for bestowing such an honor towards an important health issue: littered trash.

     I am humbled to follow the 2012 recipient Carol McQuillen, Chair of Common Roots whom promote sustainable agriculture in SB and teach children where our food comes from. I also found the 2011 award recipient, Teague O’connor as exemplary particularly for developing a program to connect kids with nature.
     As you mark the Land trust’s 10th year anniversary, I offer this quote, from the essay, The ecology of Pooh, by Liam Heneghany. “If we are to regain intimacy with this place, this Earth, we might have to take up again those ancient and revolutionary tools, walking and listening, listening and walking.”


     Litter Stories mission has similarities to the Land trust’s mission. The litter stories mission of education and advocacy includes collaborating with other organizations and the citizens of South Burlington to pick up litter year round for the benefit of people and wildlife. The goal is to keep the natural wonders of our walkways, streets, bike paths, parks, and waterways clear of trash. 

     Litter picking is an all-season sport, which everyone can participate in to protect the well-being, beauty and livability of our community.

     When I was a teenager, I sought out Green Up Day as a continuation of tradition mixed with my growing independence. As I joined friends that Saturday morning I felt like we were doing something good that seemed leveraged well beyond the ten or twelve bags of trash we collected. What I saw and felt that Saturday encourages me to view every day that I walk outdoors as Green Up Day.

Why tell stories about litter?    Stories make us care.


     Litter injures and kills wildlife. Littered trash tarnishes the image of our community. People around the world are looking for meaningful and practical ways to restore earth starting close to home.

     That bears repeating: I believe People in our community are looking for meaningful and practical ways to restore earth – beginning with their neighborhood.  Picking up litter- picks us up.

     The stories and photos I publish are meant to personify caring, community, and contribution.

     My web site table of contents includes categories such as clean up events, a bit of humor, personal stories, folklore, and essays.

      I have also published a cleanup coupon to offer folks an easy method to alert store owners of litter on the storefront, and asking them to restore the image of their business and community.

      Engaging business owners requires persistence and patience.

For a few years now, I have visited businesses on Williston rd. with a 2-minute appeal and informational awareness campaign about maintaining a litter free storefront.

The two minute appeal covers

·        Litter awareness and the opportunity to remove the site blemish

·        Inordinate cost benefit ratio compared to infrastructure embellishments

·        Ending with a question-what are the barriers preventing you from maintaining a litter free site?


You never know where you will see litter impacts.

·        While biking on Lime Kiln road a large trash truck passed me while spewing Styrofoam popcorn into the wind.  I biked hard to catch up with the driver at the traffic light…


Ø Price Chopper and Rite Aid success stories…

Ø Merchants bank just moved in at the corner of Hinesburg road and Williston Rd. There is often litter on the sidewalk side of the stone wall along the parking lot. I will soon be asking the Merchants bank to consider the view of passersby’s of their establishment and ask them to maintain a litter free frontage reaching out to the sidewalk.


The common themes are,


Ø Recognition of littered trash and its harmful effect
Ø Appeal to community

Ø  Identify and help address barriers to resolution

     I am thankful for The Other Paper for publishing my Green and Clean monthly column. Along with my litter stories, I reach out to others in a variety of methods. Many other planetary pickers (from Maine, Mass, North Carolina, California, Belgium) exchange inspiration and accomplishments with me via my website, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

      Their focus varies from the trash paddler who picks up trash as he paddles, to beach walkers who clean up and promote cigarette free beaches. One scientifically records his finds, another records weight of trash and number of cigarette butts picked up (54,000 in 179 days). Others use found trash to create art. Each has their own focus and style. 

     My focus is encouraging more people, businesses, non-profits, students, and walkers to pick up litter whenever they see it. This not only makes us more aware of the amount of litter on our public arena, but also more cognizant of the amount of plastic and single use packaging we add to the waste stream. My style is in accordance with my motto: Laugh, Dream, Try, and do-good.

     I hope to have meet-ups at a local coffee shop with like-minded folks to,

Ø Promote installation of Ash and trash and recycle containers at high traffic transition areas.

Ø Create branding to de-stigmatize litter picking; and stigmatize littering behavior.

Ø Brainstorm, and initiate clean up campaigns.

Ø Create educational presentations for schools.

Ø Utilize synergy in collaborative city/business/nonprofit cleanup ventures.

Ø Propagate litter scorecards and litter survey sheets

Ø Encourage citizen participation in not just clean ups, but also publishing before and after photos, and photos of folks enjoying each other’s company while doing the clean ups.


     Michael Franti an activist singer said, we all have obligations as human beings-a responsibility to be aware of what is happening in the world & change our part of the world.
 Global warming, sustainability and other earth shattering issues sometimes seem so large and beyond our individual ability to affect, we become overwhelmed and in activated. The problem of litter is global; however, we can as individuals easily address the problem locally.


      A fellow litter picker by the name of Eef Flo of Belgium recently posted this quote, “We spend our days waiting for the ideal path to appear in front of us, but what we forget is that paths are made by walking, not by waiting.” 

Make yours a lean and clean walk; pick up litter as you walk for a better you and a better world.

     Can I please have a show of hands, how many for littered streets?  Opposed?

  That was easy, now let’s pick up some litter, dispose of it properly, and then be aware of how you feel when you do that.

                                Thank You
                                  Bernie Paquette

Also a belated, special Thank You to my wife Barbara for attending the award ceremony with me and Thanks to her for baking food for the potluck meal we joined at the meeting.  


South Burlington Land Trust http://www.sblt.org/

I share the ideals of SBLT which include, maintaining open spaces, wildlife habitat, clean-air, water, land, views and agricultural and recreational resources. I share SBLT's values demonstrated by making our city beautiful and safe for its inhabitants, both people and wildlife. Bernie


SBLT Mission:

  1. Cooperate with other land conservation organizations and willing land owners to conserve significant tracts of undeveloped land in South Burlington, especially in the Southeast Quadrant (SEQ).
  2. Collaborate with City officials and citizens to implement the South Burlington Open Space Strategy (April 2002).
  3. Support continued agricultural uses of land in South Burlington and adjoining towns.
  4. Work with adjoining towns on land conservation projects to preserve forests, wetlands, and other natural areas for long term preservation, low impact recreation, wildlife corridors, and to maintain or improve water quality.
  5. Promote responsible residential, commercial, and transportation development in South Burlington and neighboring cities and towns.
  6. Disseminate information and resources to land owners and residents regarding the value of the City’s natural, conserved and agricultural lands.
  7. Participate in South Burlington planning and development review activities as an organization advocating the preservation of our natural resources and open spaces.