Every year when the winter snows melt, the ditches and roadsides sprout an array of faded fast food bags and cartons, huge drink containers, beer and soda cans, and a miscellany of ugly refuse, all of which easily could have been recycled or tossed in the trash can by their owners.
It’s left to residents living along those roads to clean up the mess, as littering seems to remain as widespread and as hard to eradicate as the common cold.
In Londonderry, residents have for years gone a little further than picking up roadside trash and spent their weekends sprucing up town and school greenspace each spring.
Earlier this month, however, it was announced by the Solid Waste and Environment Committee that the 12-year-old Beautify Londonderry program would no longer operate, thanks to a lack of volunteers and leadership. When the chairman resigned, no one among the membership offered to take on the role, and the decision was made to suspend the group, which had joined forces with the Town’s Anti-Littering Advisory Committee.
Things have changed. After hearing of the decision to suspend the program, other residents volunteered to continue its work this spring. That’s good news for volunteerism and for the Town.
But that doesn’t mean a town needs a formal group charged with volunteer clean-up to keep from looking trashy. It should clearly be a town and school district responsibility to keep their grounds neat and attractive, and while there may not be budgeted money for a wealth of new plantings each year, the ability to keep the grounds tidy and inviting should be built into each public entity’s buildings and grounds operation.
We appreciate the volunteer efforts that go into Beautify Londonderry each spring. And we acknowledge the work of similar groups of volunteers that come together each year to help clean their towns. But it’s up to each resident to pick up their property, even if they aren’t the people who trashed it. It doesn’t take a huge effort to walk up and down the street in front of your home and pick up the refuse thrown from car windows each winter.
In most towns, Public Works will pick up specially designated bags of roadside trash left out from roadside cleanups. And maybe each spring, a designated clean-up weekend could be held, and every resident could get extra bags to leave out for free pick-up.
It’s great to see volunteers step up to the plate in Londonderry. It’s a reminder that it’s up to each of us, in every town, to give a little of our own time and effort to keep our surroundings welcoming and green.