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By Carmen Ensinger
Greene County is a little bit cleaner thanks to the efforts of 100s of Greene County residents who spent Earth Day walking the streets and country roads picking up trash and debris.
The event was organized by the Greene County Health Department.
“We estimate that we had more than 300 individuals participate in this event,” Greene County Health Department Public Health Administrator Molly Peters said. “We had all three school districts participate along the entire student body of St. John’s school. Plus, we had community organizations in Greenfield, Roodhouse, White Hall and Carrollton, so it really was a community wide event.”
Volunteers were easy to spot on Friday morning, April 22, and throughout the day, in their bright yellow t-shirts carrying blue trash bags and filling them with trash gathered along the sides of the road.
“The Health Department provided the trash bags and the gloves for everyone to use,” Peters said. “Then the Illinois Department of Transportation was able to provide some grabbers for those individuals who might not be able to bend down so easily. Then Zoetis and the Health Department went in together to sponsor the t-shirts for everyone.”
After main areas, like parks and schools in each community were covered, groups were assigned to cover the squares and main streets in the communities along with the main stretches of highway going out and coming into the community. Others covered the country roads, such as Cemetery Road and Woody Road, some of the more traveled roads.
Peters said everyone had a hand in picking up the trash bags that the volunteers left by the sides of the road.
“We picked up the majority of what was out there, however, IDOT picked up the bags that were left in their areas,” Peters said. “The cities were going to pick up in specific locations, like where we were going to pile bags, but we ended up taking them kind of directly to their dumpster areas. Some business organizations let us put them in their dumpsters as well. Buck Crossing and Dollar General let us do that because we picked up near their area.”
Besides making the roadsides look much nicer, picking up the debris does have an environmental impact on the area as well, especially along the roadways.
“Trash that has gathered in the ditches over time begins to affect the drainage, especially when we have heavy rains, such as we have had in the past couple weeks,” Peters said. “Now that we have cleaned them all out, we are encouraging people, when they go out for a walk, to take a trash bag along and pick up some trash while you are out. If we all continue to work to address the problem, then we will continue to live in a really good place.”