Our Saturday morning routine is for Jim and me to breakfast out followed by the Farmers’ Market for the weekly meat, some sourdough bread, and whatever produce is seasonally available until our garden is producing.  We are starting to see some greens and got a big bag of fresh spinach and a large bunch of scallions.  Some brats, a pork Boston butt, a bit of beef to go with the chickens we froze in the fall and we are set for the week.

Lately, we have noticed a lot of litter, not just on our road, but on the main road between Blacksburg and home.  A couple of weeks ago, Jim decided to clean up our road and did a small portion of the road down the mountain.  Today, the litter got to us and after we unloaded the market goodies, we donned gloves, grabbed a box garbage bags and headed back out.  We parked on a wide grassy area in a curve where our car could be seen from both directions and set to work.  Jim worked down one side, I worked down the other.

In 1/4 mile, we collected 8 bags of beer bottles and cans, soda bottles, drink cups, hard liquor bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags, fast food trash, styrofoam containers, and cigarette packs.


We had a few drivers wave at us and one stop to make sure our car had not broken down, but no offers of help.

I hate that it all went in the landfill, but we weren’t about to sort through the bags to filter out the plastic bags and styrofoam to recycle it.  When we got to the convenience center, we saw about a dozen more bright orange bags that are given out by the road crews to people that want to clean up litter that had also been brought down.

I don’t understand the mindset of people who think that throwing their trash out the window is okay.  I hate to think what our beautiful country road, that leads up to a historic lodge and is traveled by many visitors daily, would look like if good citizens didn’t clean up for the thoughtless.  It disturbs me more that half a bag of that litter was on 2/10s of a mile of our dead end road that is traveled only by residents and delivery people.

Virginia, it is time to return to bottle deposits and for our country to take a stand against plastic bags and styrofoam.  That might not eliminate the problem, but might help reduce it.  I wish that we could clean up all the way to Blacksburg, but we will instead tackle a section of our mountain road at a time, until it is cleaned up.  I guess we should look for the source of the orange bags.  They can be left tied on the side of the road and the local refuse collectors pick them up on their route.

4 thoughts on “Why?”

  1. I used to run a Keep America Beautiful affiliate in NC. You can adopt part of your road through the Dept of Transportation, here is a link: http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/prog-aah-default.asp they will provide you with bags and pick up the full ones twice a year. I have not worked with the Virginia DOT But the one in NC was wonderful and very supportive. I can tell you from ten years experience working with volunteers and guest speaking to groups and schools – the reason why many people litter is because they don’t have a sense of ownership. The road “belongs” to the government, so people figure it’s not their responsibility. They assume that it’s someone’s JOB to clean it up, so it doesn’t matter if they mess it up.I spent a lot of years trying to change that mindset in one town, and I never felt like I made a dent. It’s depressing, but you do what you can. You can learn more about KAB here: https://www.kab.org/

    1. The section we cleaned is actually already adopted, but it has never been cleaned by them in the 10 years I have lived here. I had already contacted VDOT about getting the bags and about that sponsor not doing it’s job and am waiting to hear back from them. Thanks for the info though.

  2. Yes, it is such a shame that people think it’s okay to toss their trash. Kudos to you both for taking time from your own day to clean up the mess. And I like your idea about going back to returning bottles and nixing plastic bags. I’ve used cloth bags for year when I grocery shop. Blessings, Fran!

    1. Keeping a bag in your car and tossing it in an appropriate receptacle is not difficult. I am glad you use reuseable bags, so do I. Thank you for your comments.

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