...(Or, how I stopped worrying and learned to love cleaning the highway.)
"Based on the findings of the report, my conclusion was that this idea was not a practical deterrent for reasons which at this moment must be all too obvious." -Dr. Strangelove
Allow me to start with a little background. Summit Brewing Company joined the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Adopt-A-Highway program in 2009. We are responsible for Interstate 35E between West Seventh Street and Grand Avenue in Saint Paul. This is basically Summits 'backyard'. When we learned this section of highway was available, it was obvious we needed to help keep it clean. Literally, Saint Paul, its land, its neighborhoods and mostly its people made Summit what it is today. And, dammit we aren't going anywhere. So, why not help make this the best community we possibly can.
You can learn a lot while cleaning the highway. You find people's check stubs, grocery lists, beer cans and bottles. You find people's drivers licenses, green cards, and military ID's. You find things you don't want to: paint cans, laundry, underwear (who loses their underwear on 35E?), diapers, roofing shingles, a mattress and box-spring, cardboard breathalyzer tubes. We should really save these tubes and send them back to the police and highway patrol. And, cash, so far we've found a ten, a twenty and a Canadian twenty, which is worth close to a twenty here in the U.S. One volunteer claimed to have pulled up some pot plants...didn't mention exactly where...And, we have found Summit bottles. Don't throw Summit bottles out, recycle the darn things! Actually, don't throw anything out. Saint Paul has garbage cans all over the place. When you see one, take thirty seconds, pull over to the curb and use them. Give a hoot, or a pox on you.
Here is an FYI to dazzle your friends with at the weekend BBQ. Or, approach that potential mate at an Art-A-Whirl party with the pithy witticism that Adopt-A-Highway and Art-A-Whirl have the same number of hyphens, and then charm them with a segue into the fascinating world of litter. Oh, and if they start arguing that those are 'dashes' and not 'hyphens', don't waste your time talking to that person. Move along to the next person. Adopt-A-Highway volunteers in Minnesota pick up about 26,000 tons of litter every year. Summit volunteers pick up over a ton every time we clean up our section of 35E. Twelve thousand miles of Minnesota roads are part of the Adopt-A-Highway program of which Summit has 2.6 miles. Oh yeah, and research shows 55% of littering is done intentionally and 80% of littering is done by males. An aluminum can will decompose in 200-500 years. A glass bottle will decompose in 1 million. Adopt-A-Highway volunteers save the MN/DOT $5 million every year.