With more time on their hands, residents in Mathews County are using this time to turn a hard situation into something positive. April 1st marked the first day of Keep America Beautiful Month and a rising tide of community “ploggers.” MCVIC wanted to highlight the efforts of a growing community group working together to cleanup Mathews roadways during their coronavirus quarantine.
That’s right, we said “Ploggers” or, “the act of jogging or walking while picking up trash.” Digging a little further, a recent Guardian article describes plogging as a portmanteau word combining the act of jogging while picking, or “plocka” in Sweden. Plo-gging. (If you stuttered over the word “portmanteau,” so did we – it means blending the sounds and meanings of two words.) This growing activity in Sweden has been described by many to be healthy in body, mind, and environment, and it has made it’s way all the way to small town Mathews.
A Facebook group called “Mathews County Ploggers,” started just under two weeks ago on March 21st. Already, it has picked up 40 members already, all of them adamant about litter pickup in Mathews. Just looking at who reported to the group, they have collectively picked up over 22 bags of trash spanning several miles of backroads. Let this be known, that those 22 bags were picked up from 10% of their members, meaning their efforts are far wider from the folks who choose not to share their day’s work of plogging.
Jan Wilson Towne is the resident responsible for creating the group in hopes to “clean up Mathews County roadways and shorelines and keep them looking great.” She saw an opportunity while folks were forced to work or stay at home. Another resident, Terri (pictured) encouraged people to participate “as a blessing to others while church services are canceled throughout the community.”
They recommend these tips for individuals interested in participating:
- Use separate bags for recycling so you do not have to do that when you get home.
- Wear disposable gloves (MCVIC also recommends, don’t touch your skin or face and also wear long sleeved shirts, pants and water proof shoes when the ground & ditches are wet.)
- If kids help – make sure they have a tetanus shot as there are rusted cans and glass they may cut themselves on. (MCVIC also recommends, don’t bring kids along narrow, windy back roads, but pick less crowded, straight roads instead.)
- Bring more bags than you think you will need.
- Even though your area may look like there is no litter, there is! Under leaves, unpaved drainage ditches, woods, etc..You will be surprised. Tip: Nets, and poles help for ditches!
We asked some members their big WHY? One member named, John Craig responded,
I waterfowl hunt and after that season ends is when I hit the road. Been doing it for 18 years… My trash chariot has seen many things, from 2 quarts of moonshine to dirty diapers . I am always trying to guess why and what things are I have picked up. I try to be on the road between 4 and 6 PM so I can wave to people as they head home, the idea they will see what I am doing and think twice before throwing trash out, but I have seen for some it didn’t work. To answer the question why I pick up trash? It would have to be my love for Mathews and for my Lord and savior.-John Craig
The group would like folks to think twice about throwing something out the window. They’ve noticed especially the abudance of discarded beer bottles, soda cans and many many cigarette butts.
They also ask you to consider slowing down for their safety, and watch for pickers on the side of the road often adorned in bright orange vests.
Most importantly, through their acts, energies and dedication of time, maybe we can all use this extra time to appreciate the outdoors, take pride in our county, and find creative ways to share our love for Mathews with our families.
Our “Big WHY” for sharing this silver-lining: part 1 series.
MCVIC has embarked on a month long campaign to share positivity and “silver-lining” moments of how Mathews shines among the impacts of this pandemic. We want to remind our community how special it is and break up their newsfeed clouded with COVID-19 updates. When we’re not engaging with visitors and hosting events, we always try to work on community-building. Follow VisitMathews on Facebook and Instagram to get engaged.
The Visitor Center (MCVIC) is the “clean community coordinator” for Mathews and hosts 2 annual pickups a year in Spring and Fall. We are particularly happy to see this interest among citizens growing at the grassroots level. When the center reopens when it is safe to do so, we hope to encourage more community participation.