It's a trashy job. But someone's got to do it. Litter patrol that is. In fact more than 1000 volunteers in Winnebago and Boone counties signed up to do just that.
It's called the 'Great American Cleanup', and for the 25th year, volunteers take to the streets in search of litter.
Armed with brightly colored garbage bags, tongs, and safety vests, volunteers spend the day searching for garbage. And they say they're glad to do it.
"We just think it's really important to be a part of the neighborhood, help clean up, keep it looking nice, and help people," says Laura Spinello, a cleanup volunteer.
Another volunteer, Corry Curry, agrees. "I'm just out here doing my part, help the community out, that's the whole purpose."
Joe Owen, the president of this area's neighborhood association says he's surprised by the amount of litter crews are finding. " Beer bottles, a lot of fast food containers, potato chip bags. People are just not mindful of where trash is supposed to be," says Owen
Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful puts on the event each year. The organization's executive director Lori Gummow says litter is more than just unsightly. "it's also an economic development issue. the mere presence of litter devalues your home, your business by 7 to 10 percent."
Gummow says they are trying to educate people not to litter in the first place. "When you're driving along roadsides on your way home you can see there's things that people have either tossed out of their car windows or sometimes when you put out your garbage at the curb and it's been really winds, unfortunately some of that blows into the roadways and ditches."
But she says each year, volunteers are able to put a dent in the amount of litter that has been accumulating all winter long. "We estimate how many volunteers and how many bags of litter that they picked up, and last year was about 50 tons," says Gummow.
Those brightly colored bags will remain on the side of the road for a couple of days. Garbage crews will collect them next week on their normal routes.
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