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Taking out the trash

Matt TerrellVail, CO Colorado
NWS Highway Cleanup PU 4-28-07
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EAGLE COUNTY – Pure, clean snow does a pretty good job of hiding the filthy garbage along the highways. “As the snow melts, you can really see it, every piece of trash on the road,” said West Vail resident Don Gomez, who was volunteering with his son in the Community Pride Highway Cleanup Saturday. “Yeah, it really bothers me. This is such a beautiful area.”Gomez comes from San Francisco, where the piles of garbage on the road are sort of ignored. That attitude doesn’t fly in Colorado, and it’s good to see the community step up and clean up, Gomez said.”You don’t notice it as much in the big city – the only people cleaning up are the people who got in trouble,” Gomez said.The cleanup day was opportunity for Eagle-Vail Resident Susan Weiss to teach her daughter Nikkomi about being a good steward of the Earth. “It kills me to drive by and look at the garbage,” Weiss said. The mother-daughter team worked in the cleanup last year, and to pass the time, decided to count cigarette butts. The magic number ended up around 400.

“You cigarette smokers need to get off your butts and pick up your butts,” Nikkomi Weiss said.Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers picked up more than 45,000 pounds of litter, and more than 3,500 bags lined the highways. Organizer Joe Macy said he expected around 1,000 volunteers this year too.”There is trash everywhere along the highways,” Macy said. “It’s just so extensive. The towns make an effort to clean up trash, and the rest of it, well, CDOT (the Colorado Department of Transportation) just doesn’t have the time to do it all.”Volunteers picked up trash from 9 a.m. to noon. A team of up to10 people usually covers a one-mile stretch of road, gathering 20 to 40 bags of litter along the way. Segments were pre-assigned so that every mile of interstate and highway from Red Cliff to Gypsum and Vail to Dotsero is covered.The volunteers were treated to a barbecue at the 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott after the work.The cleanup has been going on for 10 years, Macy said.=====================================

Here’s how long it takes for some commonly used products to biodegrade when they are scattered as litter:Cotton rags: 1-5 monthsPaper: 2-5 monthsRope: 3-14 monthsOrange peels: 6 monthsCigarette butts: 1 to 12 yearsPlastic coated milk cartons: 5 years



Nylon fabric: 30 to 40 yearsAluminum cans: 80 to 100 yearsPlastic 6-pack holder rings: 450 yearsGlass bottles: 1 million years– Worldwise.com====================================Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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