Talking with our dump attendant recently, I was told our town could save a lot of money if people would do more recycling. Mount Vernon makes it easy to recycle, allowing us to dump all recyclables in a single bin. Yet too many residents still fail to participate.

From our oceans to our roadsides to our fields and forests, people are dumping their trash, harming fish and wildlife and our environment, and costing us a lot of money.

A Jan. 28 story in this newspaper reported that a survey by Friends of Casco Bay found small pieces of plastic waste known as microplastics in all four regions they checked out along the Maine coast. That didn’t really surprise me, but I did not realize that much of our marine life eats that plastic, which could be very harmful to them.

Do you enjoy eating mussels as I do? Well, almost 2,000 pieces of microplastics can go through their systems in a day. And after 72 hours of filtering water, dissected mussels still had traces of microplastics in their systems. I doubt you enjoy eating microplastics.

My wife Linda is a serious composter, something that could be very easy for you to do. Almost anything biodegradable can be put in the compost pile. A household pilot program to collect food waste in South Portland has increased recycling rates. But you don’t have to wait for an official program to come to your town.

You can start a compost pile in the backyard, and after it breaks down you can put the compost in your flower and vegetable gardens. If you don’t have a garden I’m sure your neighbor would love to have the compost for his or her gardens.

I am also hoping that our newspapers will launch a project to reuse and recycle the yellow plastic bags they deliver our newspapers in whenever it is snowing or raining. Linda and I collect the bags, putting them into one of the bags until it is full, then leave it out in the roadside box for our carrier to take and — we hope — reuse.

You can also participate in a project called Keep Maine Clean, created to remove litter from our waterways, woods, and roadsides.

A couple years ago, the Legislature, in response to legislation I proposed, expanded the landowner relations program at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife by including the Keep Maine Clean project. Unfortunately, the agency only agreed to do the project in the woods, not along roadsides.

So I was very grateful when the Maine Resource Recovery Association stepped up to sponsor the project statewide. We hope to build an army of good folks who pick up trash along our roads and highways. And MRRA is focusing some of this effort on recycling the roadside trash, a great idea.

Glance out your car window as you drive Maine’s roads and you’ll know how important this is. Our roadsides are filled with trash, except where Mainers are picking it up. I’ve been doing this and writing about road slobs for several years now.

And I was doubly grateful when the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund gave a grant to MRRA to help get this project up and running. The latest MOHF email alert told us about this important project.

Keep Maine Clean is a statewide initiative dedicated to conserving Maine’s natural beauty by working to reduce litter, increase recycling and promote the responsible use of private lands used for public recreation.

Founded in a response to increasing amounts of roadside litter and illegal dumping on private lands, Keep Maine Clean recruits and engages outdoor enthusiasts willing to pick up and recycle trash along our roads, on our beaches and lakes, and in our fields and forests.

Keep Maine Clean works to encourage folks to pick up and recycle this trash as they walk Maine’s roads, beaches and forests and utilize private lands for public recreation.

To publicize the program and attract volunteers, a new website,, was built and launched with two original PSA videos produced by O’Chang Comics. And you can also follow Keep Maine Clean on Facebook for more info.

Please do all of this, and help keep our state clean.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at

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