By JESSICA ISAACS
Volunteers took to the streets on Saturday to participate in the Town of Boone’s annual Clean-Up Day — a longstanding local tradition that promotes awareness of community-wide sustainability practices. Clean-up and recycling efforts are still going on, as well as the town’s two-week Litter Sweep.
Along with public works and other town employees, Community Improvement Officer Shannon Isaacs was up bright and early in downtown Boone, greeting volunteers who showed up eager to make a difference.
Participants were provided with color-coded bags, vests, gloves and all the supplies they needed to help clean up around town. People and organizations who participate in the town’s Adopt a Highway and Adopt a Stream programs spent the day picking up trash and recyclables along their designated routes, and volunteers in town worked to clean up their favorite spots in the community.
Isaacs said that Clean-Up Day is an important local program because litter poses many harmful dangers to the environment and the people who live here — animals are often hit by cars when they’re going after food bags that have been tossed in the street, and trash dumped in the storm drains goes straight into the rivers and waterways.
The annual Clean-Up Day, which has been hosted by the town since 1992, sees greater volunteer participation each year as more and more people hear about it and want to get involved.
“People are sometimes hesitant about coming out until they see the sense of pride that Boone really has. It’s a small community but the local people and the university students really come together — it’s a feel good thing,” Isaacs said. “It gives you that great sense of pride that you’ve done something to help where you live. Boone is such a beautiful place.”
Isaacs said Saturday’s event brought together approximately 200 volunteers who helped clean up the town by collecting 1,140 pounds of trash compared to last year’s 1,020.
The “Most Unusual Litter” competition added a fun element to the clean-up effort on Saturday. Volunteers who found strange things while cleaning up streets and streams brought those items back to public works. Photos were taken of the unusual items and town employees voted on their favorites.
The Haydar family’s antique toy tractor took home first place this year, and the family won a $100 prize.
The town added a recycling component to the Clean-Up Day tradition in 2008, and this year’s hardworking folks picked up 200 pounds of recyclable items, too.
Boone Sanitation and Recycling Coordinator Marsha Story said the clean-up and recycling efforts play an important role in the area’s priority to protect the environment.
“Everyone knows that sustainability is at the forefront of what is important for the community and for the environment,” Story said. “There will always be plenty of recyclables that are going to be removed from the streets and streams, so we don’t want any of that to end up in the landfill.”
Story said the town has been recycling since 1988.
Isaacs said Saturday’s Clean-Up Day kicked off a two-week period in which the town will reach out to the community and encourage regular clean-up and recycling.
The clean-up effort is going on in conjunction with the annual Litter Sweep, which adds an additional free curbside trash pick-up during the two weeks to the three that are allotted to each in-town parcel per year.
To schedule a curbside pickup, call community improvements at 828-268-6230.
“If they have household items that are too big and bulky for regular trash collection, they can call in to have it picked up. If it’s a couch or something too large to go into the normal trash, they can set it on the curbside,” Isaacs said. “It can also be natural debris—brush or leaves from yard work or trimming. They can just call that number and either I or one of my coworkers will answer and we’ll put in a work order to have those items picked up.”
MAKING A PROMISE
The town’s Adopt-a-Street and Adopt-a-Stream programs allow local residents to make and keep a commitment to keeping the town and the environment clean. Isaacs said there are 130 streets or trails that are adopted and maintained, with 13 more available for anyone who might be interested in making the commitment.
“When they adopt a street, it shows that they are also taking part in the community and for sustainability efforts to keep our town clean,” Isaacs said. “They’re making that commitment for a better community.”
HOW TO HELP
To schedule a curbside pick-up, to adopt a street or for more information on the town’s ongoing sustainability programs, call a community improvement officer at 828-268-6230.