A small group of volunteers are making their way across the nation, picking up litter and spreading the word about zero waste along the way.
They are part of Pick Up America, which is the nation’s first coast-to-coast roadside litter pickup project, according to the group’s website. The group’s mission is to collect trash across the country, while educating and encouraging a transition toward zero waste.
Volunteers, dubbed Pick Up Artists, encourage alternatives to “our nation’s throwaway mentality,” the website states.
Nine volunteers stopped in Topeka on Sunday to pick up trash along Topeka Boulevard, N.W. Lyman Road and other areas. They said they will be in town as long it takes.
“We have a long way to go in America,” said Greg Katski, Pick Up America’s public relations director.
Pick Up America started off the coast of Maryland at Assateague Island in March 2010. The group on its trek to Topeka has picked up 136,322 pounds of litter thrown out of car windows and dumped along the roads of America.
The group consists of six full-time volunteers and three interns.
“We call them Trashturns,” Katski said.
Six days a week, the group dons safety vests, and grabs trash bags and litter pickers and walks the highways and streets along the route. They spend as much time as needed in each community to get the word out and clean up the trash.
“It depends on how much trash there is,” Katski said. “We spent three weeks in areas of Missouri. Topeka has been pretty clean. We’ve had a lot of support in Topeka.”
Members of the group on Sunday joked about some of the gross things they have found along the way. Oftentimes, the members will turn trash into works of art.
“We recycle what we can,” Katski said.
The group will span 13 states and plan to end in the San Francisco Bay area in November 2012.
Anthony S. Bush can be reached
at (785) 295-1196