By Elly Cosgrove | April 11, 2021 at 11:14 AM EDT – Updated April 11 at 9:20 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The North Carolina Spring Litter Sweep started this weekend and runs through April 24.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation typically schedules two Litter Sweeps each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. The biannual statewide roadside litter removal initiative calls for residents throughout the state to participate in local clean up efforts.
“It’s a way to get your town involved, it’s a way to get your groups involved, it’s a fun family event to do as well,” said Becky Walker, Litter Management Coordinator for Columbus and Bladen Counties.
The department had to cancel both of its Litter Sweeps last year because of the pandemic.
“April last year and that was, you know, right at the beginning of the pandemic and we didn’t know a lot of things,” said Harris Kay, a communications officer for NCDOT. “Even in the fall, we were still wanting to both comply for safety and the governor’s orders we decided to preemptively go ahead and cancel that one as well.”
Now that more people are getting vaccinated and the state is starting to curb the pandemic, it’s now time to get litter off the curb.
“With all the vaccinations that are going on and with covid slowing down a little bit, more people are more willing to come out,” Walker said.
“I believe that we’re a lot smarter about this pandemic. We know how to mitigate it, we know the safety guidelines, and, of course, we’re heavily encouraging everyone out there to follow all CDC guidelines,” Kay said.
In addition to volunteers, NCDOT maintenance crews devote one week of their time to pick up litter.
Local volunteers are provided with reversible orange and blue trash bags, gloves and orange safety vests from their local NCDOT County Maintenance Yard office. Once volunteers are done with their roadside sweep, crews with the nearby maintenance department retrieve the bags.
“This allows volunteers across North Carolina to get involved, to get out there, help keep our streets clean,” Kay said. “Because ultimately at the end of the day, keeping North Carolina clean is a community effort.”
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