To the Editor: Trashed Roadsides

Trash collected in one day on a half-mile stretch of Jarmans Gap Road (Photo: Peter hyland)

Trashed Roadsides

My wife and I moved to Crozet in June of 2013 upon completion of our home on Jarmans Gap Road.

We love Crozet and the beauty of the surrounding area. For the first three years we spent much of our time improving our land: installing a meadow, a vegetable garden, and landscaping our yard with trees and plants.

Recently, we decided to take long walks, usually going west on Jarmans Gap Road because of the picturesque scenery of the Blue Ridge mountains. We were horrified at the amount of litter on the sides of the road. Beer cans, water bottles, pizza boxes, liquor bottles, styrofoam containers used for carry-out food, empty cigarette boxes, etc.

Later we took the same walk but decided to bring garbage bags to pick up the litter we came across.  We started from the front of our home and by the time we got to Layne Place, a mere half mile walk, we had filled five large garbage bags. Think about it—five full garbage bags of litter over just a half-mile span (attached is a picture of the bags sitting in our garage).

Please convey to your readers not to litter. Besides being unsightly it is bad for the environment and detrimental to our wildlife. We need to enforce “no littering.”

We intend to continue our “garbage collecting walks.” Sadly that day’s collection didn’t make a dent in the amount of litter that is on our roadsides. However, we took great pleasure in knowing the section of Jarmans Gap between Half Mile Branch Rd and Layne Place is currently litter free. Unfortunately, that probably won’t last long.

Pete Hyland


  1. Dear Pete,
    Thanks so much for picking up the litter on your road. For about 17 years my husband George and I have picked up litter on a 2-mile stretch of Miller School Road. We adopted the road through the VDOT Adopt-A-Highway program. We pick up litter on the road several times a year (not always doing the full 2 mile stretch) and we average about 14 large orange trash bags each time.
    The majority of the trash is fast food packaging, construction debris that flies out of unsecured truck beds, and of course the ubiquitous beer cans and bottles. We estimate about 90% of what we pick up is recyclable.

    Wouldn’t the world be a better place if every person just picked up after themselves? Literally and figuratively?
    Miette Michie

  2. Thank you to Miette Michie,, Mr. and Mrs. Hyland and everyone else who has the common courtesy to be responsible and mature! I often wonder what people are thinking whenever they decide to throw their trash/cigarette butts out of a car window or throw it down on the ground if they are outside. I wonder if they have ever been taught about respect for our environment and for the property of others. It really is just common courtesy to take care of your own waste! There is no excuse except laziness and being inconsiderate. Our responsibility as parents is to teach our children about social responsibility. It’s too bad not all do.

  3. Pete and Miette,

    Hats off to you both for picking up the roadway litter!

    I just moved here recently from Vermont and have already begun picking up litter in my neighborhood. The roadway litter is what I noticed most as one of the biggest differences between both beautiful states. It doesn’t seem to me that the Adopt A Highway program is very effective when it comes to litter.

    In Vermont, they have something called Green Up Day. It is the first Saturday in May. For a week before, people (including state workers) go out to pick up trash in their part of Vermont. The bags of trash are usually a certain color, but I found out that they don’t need to be that color for the people who pick up the bags to do so. Schools, towns and communities have those special colored bags about a month before Green Up Day. You see kids, families, youth groups, state employees and neighbors picking up trash and leaving the bags along the roadsides to be picked up on Green Up Day and the week after. It is considered part of community service and an honor to contribute in this way.

    While I agree that everyone should pick up after themselves, it doesn’t appear to happen. I would vote for a Green Up Day here in Virginia because it certainly brings awareness to the problem of litter, especially in multiple and diverse communities.

  4. I have traveled to other places in the world (Canada in particular) where litter is not a problem. Many people I spoke with in Canada consider a lot of US residents to be pigs and would rather they not visit their country. I think the people who throw trash out the window actually believe it somehow magically disappears. Yes, we need better litter enforcement!!

  5. I grew up in Michigan where we had (and they still have) the bottle bill — bottles and cans are returned for cash. Since I grew up with this, as I traveled around as an adult I couldn’t believe how much “cash” there was on the roadsides in states that did not have such a bill.

    Anyone else think the bottle bill in Virginia might be a pretty good idea? 🙂

  6. Hi everybody,

    My husband and I pick up trash on Old Ballard road on a nearly weekly basis for over a year now. In order to document and quantify it, we created a blog here which shows our finds.
    We have the feeling, that the litterers are mostly “regulars” on their way to work or heading back home, because we find the same brands of beer at the same spots. They most likely live in the area and don’t seem to care at all.
    Having a recycle system for cans and bottles in place (return for cash) would certainly help.


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