Our opinion: Green Up Day a proud Vermont tradition

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Green Up Day celebrates its 49th anniversary on Saturday, as Vermonters fan out along the state's roadways to pick up trash and demonstrate the Green Mountain State's commitment to a clean environment.

But it was 50 years ago this spring, in March of 1969, that the idea first sprang to life. It came from a newspaper reporter, Robert S. Babcock Jr., of the Burlington Free Press.

As the story goes, Babcock was appalled by the amount of debris that had collected along Interstate 89 on a drive from Waterbury to Montpelier, and suggested to then-Gov. Deane Davis that a statewide clean-up day be held in cooperation with the state highway department.

Davis agreed, with the added suggestion that the first event be held in a year so there would be time to plan, coordinate and publicize the event.

The first Green Up Day was held April 18, 1970, and it was an unqualified success. More than 20,000 cubic yards of trash was removed from interstates and state highways, and another 20,000 cubic yards of rubbish from town roads.

It's part of what makes Vermont unique and special, and it's and a great community activity.

"I want to encourage all Vermonters to get involved in Green Up Day this weekend," Gov. Phil Scott said Thursday. "it makes a real difference and it's an important part of who we are as Vermonters."

To this day, Green Up Day remains the oldest statewide cleanup day in the United States. And it's kept up with our high-tech times. You can now download a free app to your smartphone that will help you get involved as a volunteer, join or create a team, and track locations and results.

Want to get involved? You can download the app from Green Up Vermont's website (https://greenupvermont.org/) or by visiting Google Play or the Apple App Store. Also, the Green Up Vermont website has a complete town by town contact list, organized by county.

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