Lifestyle

Anti-littering message spans generations

The Poulsbo litter crew includes (Back L-R) Peter Atwood, Margaret Atwood, Marilyn Putnam, Richard Putnam. (Front L-R) Marcus and Stella McCurty. Volunteers are planning a pick up day in Poulsbo over the Earth Day weekend. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
The Poulsbo litter crew includes (Back L-R) Peter Atwood, Margaret Atwood, Marilyn Putnam, Richard Putnam. (Front L-R) Marcus and Stella McCurty. Volunteers are planning a pick up day in Poulsbo over the Earth Day weekend.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Once, she was paid $10 for it. All the other times she did it for free.

Marilyn Putnam of Poulsbo has been picking up litter for almost 30 years. Hammer out the numbers, and that's an annual salary of about 30 cents, seeing as how only once did she stumble upon a $10 bill while lifting discarded trash from the ground.

Safe to say she doesn't do it for the kickback.

What she does it for, Putnam would tell you, is the future - and those who will be a part of it. She's signaling in a similar mindset citywide, making way for a generational bridge of values that keep streets and properties tidy.

At 9 a.m. tomorrow is the third annual Poulsbo Clean Up Day. It's an Earth-minded event all are welcome to join.

Trash bags, gloves, safety vests and maps will be at the ready for participants at the Kvelstad Pavilian downtown. An ending reception will be at 10:15 a.m. with coffee and pastries, after crews have canvassed the Poulsbo Village, Poulsbo Library, Front Street, Jensen Way and Fourth Avenue for unwanted and improperly disposed of garbage.

Local citizens and businesses contributed to the cause after Putnam sought support from city leaders three years ago, their efforts similarly to motivate others to do the same.

Though Putnam is the event's driving force, "It takes other people who are interested to make this happen," she explained.

Kitsap County volunteers amassed 197,412 pounds of litter in 2007, according to the state Department of Ecology. The Kitsap County Sheriff's Inmate Crew cleaned up 34 tons of litter from 1,272 roadway miles that year, the county reported. Last year in Poulsbo, Clean Up Day volunteers filled 50 bags with trash.

There's plenty of litter to go around. So much so, Putnam would like Poulsbo's event to occur more than once each year.

"We'd like to go further," she said, adding plans to help spruce up entrances to the city and create a kid-based program for area schools to teach the importance of not littering.

"If children began to pick up around their schools on a regular basis, there would be less and less and less litter for them to pick up," she said. "It's a mindset of knowing how important it is to create an environment around yourself, to have pride in it."

Adults, she pointed out, aren't the only ones who need to take to an anti-littering mindset: Kids must as well.

"It's going to be their world," she said.

That thought is emulated in Putnam's own efforts: she said she spends time scouring the streets for litter every few weeks. But her true contribution is in the planet-friendly message she's passed to her grandkids, who are just 4- and 6-years-old.

"It's a mental state of mind that if you see litter on the ground it begins to deteriorate what you think is normal," Putnam explained. "I think that if we get children to understand, that's the beginning."

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