By Alison Sullivan, Editor in Chief

The Princeton Earth Month Cleanup is well under way, thanks to the 110 people who signed up to clean the 80 miles of road, all trails, and all parks in town.
“Everyone I know in Princeton is happy to live in such a beautiful, rural area and they are happy to help keep it clean,” said Karen Rossow, who is on the Open Space Committee (OSC). The OSC along with the Environmental Action Committee organized this event for the second year in a row. The inaugural Cleanup last year was held to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day.
The first Earth Day in 1970 was held to recognize the impact that humans have on the environment. Within a year, Earth Day inspired the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and several environmental laws still in place today. Fifty years after the first Earth Day, it is celebrated in over 190 countries by millions of people, according to EarthDay.org.
OSC Chair Rick Gardner, one of several organizers of the Princeton Earth Month Cleanup, said that last year there were a few leftover routes that nobody signed up for, which were cleaned by members of the Open Space Committee. So many families volunteered this year that he had to start turning people away for lack of available routes.
“We have a lot of people that cleaned up their neighborhoods anyway,” he added.
Not only was there more interest in this year’s Earth Month Cleanup, participants found “their sections are a little cleaner than they’ve expected,” Garner said.
Gardner said organizers do not have an exact comparison between this year and last in terms of the amount of trash collected. Although participants are asked to keep track of the number of bags of trash collected, the bag size is not specified or consistent across participants.
“Some people are reporting, some are not,” Gardner added.
After the first Earth Month Cleanup last April, several participants continued to clean regularly.
“More people are taking responsibility for their area multiple times a year or every time they go for a walk,” according to Gardner.
Rossow added that people can always get out and clean up their town “as long as they do it safely wearing bright colors.”
Gardner had wanted to organize an event of this nature for a while, and felt that “with a little bit of coordination, we could probably make sure all of our roads get clean.” He assembled a team of five or six people, including Rossow, and brainstormed how to make it happen.
The team called the Highway Department to make sure participants could dispose of the trash they picked up at the end, and according to Gardner they were happy to help.
Last year, participants received tree saplings at the end of the Cleanup. This year, there will be prizes for different types of items picked up, such as ‘Most Interesting’ and ‘Most Disgusting.’
“I was thinking after we decided that it may not be the brightest idea,” Gardner added.
Rossow said the most interesting thing she found as she cleaned up her allotted two miles of Princeton roads was a Passport and other “important documents.”
“My theory is they put it on top of the car and drove off,” Rossow said, adding that she dropped off the documents at the owner’s house nearby.
While some participants have found their sections cleaner than expected, there is still a need for an annual cleanup as long as people continue to litter.
“We shouldn’t have to clean up the trash,” Rossow said, “but we’re happy to be stewards for the town.” 

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