This Saturday is the 48th annual Green Up Day, when volunteers across the state collect litter from roadsides and public spaces.
A purely Vermont tradition started in 1970 by Governor Deane Davis has continued yearly on the first Saturday of each May with Vermonters filling bright green bags along roadsides and in public spaces.
This year, Green Up Vermont, the organization that oversees the event, is trying something a little different: using a mobile app to encourage participation.
They reached out to Code For BTV, a volunteer organization of digitally savvy Vermonters that works to find digital solutions to community problems.
Micah Mutrux is Code For BTV’s Project Delivery Lead and was among those who helped to build the app:
“We initially used the app as a sort of teaching tool for an Essex STEM program. So a year ago it went through a phase where it was being developed by high school students,” Mutrux explained. “But the bulk of the work was completed in the last four months.”
The app allows smartphone users to create their own teams, invite their friends or join local teams to participate in Saturday’s Green Up festivities. It also tracks your team’s progress throughout the day cleaning up and has information on local Green Up events.
As of Friday, Mutrux said there were 53 teams and about 250 people signed up through the app, with that number expected to rise steadily before Saturday.
With the app still in beta (a technical phase allowing developers to test an app, while still making it available to the public) Mutrux is hoping that the team will learn how people use it on Saturday to help them make improvements for next year.
It is worth noting, this is not the first time Green Up Day has had a mobile companion: The group also tried one out back in 2014.