Calling all friends and community members! Green Up day is upon us and while you may not immediately relate that to health and wellness, think again! Clean communities often mean safer and healthier communities too! Not to mention when you live in a town that looks sparkling fresh, you are more likely to want to share that pride and spend time in it! This Saturday, May 1st is Green Up Day and it’s a chance for us ALL to partner together for the greater good of our neighborhoods!

A little history on this day – Green Up Day is a “Vermont” day! It started as an idea in 1969 from then-Governor Deane Davis, in which Vermonters could work together to clean up Vermont’s roadsides and while it took a year to get it going, they held their first “Green up Day,” on April 18, 1970. It was a HUGE deal! According to “The Interstate Highways close 9am–12pm for litter pick up by volunteers. Schools bussed kids all over Vermont to lend a hand while the Governor covered many miles in his helicopter, landing on the Interstate to praise volunteers.” It was said that about 70,000 volunteers helped that day and before you know it this turned into an annual event! Now Green Up Day takes place on the first Saturday in May!

Why does Green Up matter? No one likes to see a town covered in garbage in general, but it’s proven that if you live in a clean town, you are more likely to enjoy your town. Think about it! If you are feeling like you want to walk more this spring, are you more or less likely to go walking if the streets are covered in garbage and soggy cigarette butts leftover from the melted snowbanks? No! We know that when the streets are clean, it’s not only a more pleasant visual but it also makes people feel safer as well. Having clean towns is also more welcoming to our visitors and we all know how much our NEK thrives on its visitors and tourists.

Green Up Day is also a great exercise! From all the walking to the bending and squats, don’t be surprised if you need to stretch physically after your stretch of service. You can make your volunteering as short as cleaning up on your street or taking if further and covering more space. When it comes to picking up items off the ground, lift safely! While an empty water bottle may not weigh much, bending over and over can do some wearing on your back. Bend your legs each time you pick up an item to spare your back some overuse. Make sure to get in some good stretches once you get home!

Make it fun. Green Up Day with kids is a perfect way to not only beautify our communities but to teach healthy lessons. Kids who grow up doing Green Up Day are more likely to participate in the future. Encourage kids to keep track of cans, bottles, and items. See if you can get 100 or more. Maybe offer a reward if they hit that goal. It will keep them motivated! Other ways to make it fun: play music! Make a fun playlist to keep you jazzed up as you green up! Think of songs to keep you going until the work is done. Challenge your co-Green Uppers to see who can collect the most trash! Challenge friends to post a selfie online of the volunteers and say whoever gets the most “likes” owes everyone a coffee. There’re tons of ways to make this day fun along with the added boost of endorphins we all get when we do a good thing.

Most towns will offer you bags for clean-up and a direction on where to leave said bags as well.
For Newport residents: families, clubs, organizations, teams, and citizens are invited to pick up bags at the city office. Same for Jay, Orleans, and many others! Many have bags available NOW so call your town office to be sure. Keep things safe by staying away from roadways, staying off the railroad tracks and using safety around the water. Wear gloves and if something doesn’t look safe to touch, don’t!

Once we are all Greened Up and ready to go, get out there! Enjoy your beautiful towns by going for walks, bike rides and more! Take some time to enjoy the green spaces around us by having a picnic, playing frisbee or just going to sit and journal or read. Let’s make the effort to keep our towns looking beautiful by not just pitching in this weekend, but all year long too. Let’s also commit to enjoying more time outdoors. Take advantage of all the beauty each town has -spend a day by the pond in Island Pond, take the kids to the park in Derby Line, check out the trails in Jay and go kayaking in West Charleston. Get out there and check out this beautiful Northeast Kingdom and beyond. We hope to see you out there Saturday- wear your sunscreen, grab your gloves and let’s GREEN UP VT!


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center