In the spring of 1970, I picked up litter along a lake with fellow high school students for the first Earth Day. The following year, I helped organize our school’s second Earth Day, when we gathered the litter bags at my friend’s house so we could recycle the glass and metal. Somehow I got the idea of smuggling the U.S. flag from the school cafeteria and planted it on the huge pile, the flag remaining through the weekend, the weekend of twin anti-war marches in San Francisco and D.C. I didn’t know until recently, but the national coordinator of the first Earth Day grew up in my small hometown.
For this upcoming 48th Earth Day, I encourage people to pick up roadside litter near your neighborhood. The date is April 22, a Sunday. Try to clean up a mile stretch of road. Buy a good litter picker. The best I’ve found is the Dramm Pick- Up Stix, which uses your whole hand for mechanical power instead of your finger. Be safe. Wear nitrile gloves and a safety green or orange vest. Use 13-gallon white kitchen bags inside a similar-sized plastic garbage can. If you have curbside trash service, Waste Pro will accept 12 of those bags per household. Recycle all you can. Invite friends. Have fun.
Litter isn’t about life or death like so many issues we face today, but it is a measure of the spiritual health of a society. Unlike protesting, a largely symbolic activity, picking up litter is something real and nonpolitical we can do as individuals without depending upon moving a bureaucracy. Roads are not wildernesses, my favorite places in the world. They aren’t nature’s pure, untrammeled beauty. But alas, they’re where we spend much of our lives. So, let’s clean them up!
— Mickey Hunt
Editor’s note: Hunt reports that he authored A Pictorial Guide to the Monarch Butterfly Migration Over the Southernmost Blue Ridge Parkway. Readers may learn more at chaoticterrainpress.blogspot.com.