Talking Trash: How the City Keeps it Clean

Issue: May 2011 by in Archives, Going Green

A clean city contributes to a caring city, which ultimately leads to increased business—at least that’s the approach LuAnn Hunt takes when looking at the trash situation in Lynchburg.

“I definitely don’t think the city has a trash problem,” said Hunt, who works in the city’s Communications and Marketing department. “We do have a lot of good volunteers who help make that possible. We have improved dramatically over the years.”

Lynchburg has several programs in place where volunteers and businesses alike can help keep the city clean, including the Adopt-A-Street program and the March on Litter.

“Lynchburg businesses benefit substantially by having a cleaner city in which to operate,” Hunt said. “A clean city encourages more people to come here, live here, shop here and work here. A clean city shows that we care about where we live and we care about each other.”

Lynchburg started its Adopt-A-Street program about 19 years ago, Hunt said.

“Since the City of Lynchburg isn’t under VDOT, city streets did not fall under the [state’s] Adopt program, so we started our own,” she said. “After the first couple of years, we’ve averaged between 50 and 70 adoptions.”

With the city’s Adopt-A-Street program, participants are required to adopt a minimum of a half- mile of roadway and clean it a minimum of four times per year with a two-year contract. The adopting person or group receives a sign designating the adoption, orange trash bags, safety vests, litter getters and work gloves, when available. The city picks up the filled orange bags after the clean-up is finished.

Participants may adopt a location of their choice or choose from several locations throughout the city that organizers have allocated as spots needing attention.

“People who pick up trash together have fun together,” Hunt said. “It’s a good way to build team spirit while doing something positive for the community.”

March on Litter is an annual event that occurs on the last Saturday of March. The event is sponsored by the City of Lynchburg, in partnership with CCL (Citizens for a Clean Lynchburg).

“Each year, we gather at the Lynchburg Community Market downtown and provide volunteers with a listing of littered areas to clean,” said Beverly Herndon, who works in the city’s Public Works department and oversees March on Litter. “We provide bags, litter getters, gloves, vests, giveaways and even light snacks, coffee and hot chocolate.”

Organizers have seen between 50 and 150 volunteers participate each year and have reported up to a ton of trash collected. Herndon said many of the participants are the same ones that participate in the Adopt-A-Street program.

“Businesses, as well as some volunteers, usually choose the March on Litter event as one of their required four clean-ups for the year because of all the excitement, fun and cooperation surrounding the event,” Herndon said. “It also serves in spreading awareness of the constant need for citizens’ participation in keeping the city clean.”

Wingate by Wyndham on Candlers Mountain Road has been participating in the Adopt-A-Street program for about a year as an extension of the hotel’s “green” initiative, said Brian Knopp, Director of Sales for the hotel.

“It was natural to expand that initiative with the clean-up efforts,” he said.

Annually, the hotel goes above and beyond  the city’s program and does two larger clean-ups in addition to the four required by the Adopt program. The hotel has adopted the section from the Wingate to Applebee’s. For the larger clean-ups, which continue up the mountain, the hotel partners with other businesses and organizations, such as the Circle K Club at Liberty University, the Miller Home of Lynchburg and the Liberty Godparent Home. The hotel’s next large clean-up  is scheduled for September 10.

“We try to coordinate them with local events,” such as the clean-up done April 9 before College for a Weekend, Knopp said. “It helps give visitors a good first impression of the city.”

Knopp said his vision is to expand the clean-up efforts past the roads and incorporate the trails system on the mountain.

“It’s a good idea to give back to the community, and this is one way we have found that works really well,” Knopp said. “Plus, it’s good exercise.”

The city also has a Bulk Collection program in place to help encourage people to dispose of large items properly. According to Hunt, the city used to only have two collections of big items, in the spring and the fall, which lead to people dumping old sofas and stoves in secluded areas illegally.

“With the onset of the Trash Tag system several years ago, we implemented an on-call bulk collection for residents,” Hunt said. “They called when they needed a pick-up and we picked up their bulky items. Now, residents only need to put their items out on the curb and one of our trash collectors will input the drop-site into a GIS system via a special handheld device that schedules the pick-up for later that week. Citizens that have a good way to dispose of large items quickly and conveniently are less likely to illegally dump the items, again, resulting in a cleaner city.”

To learn how to participate in the Adopt-A-Street program, call (434) 455-6087. For more information on the March on Litter, call (434) 856-CITY (2489).


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