NTH Staff Engineer
Once the team of 10 volunteers received safety training and donned our safety gloves and MDOT-provided safety vests, we divided and conquered our 2-mile section of the highway (between Drake and Orchard Lake Roads in Farmington Hills and Farmington). We split into three teams, and walked along both sides of the highway. We picked up as much trash and debris as we possibly could. We also had one driver who shuttled back and forth among the teams, checking to make sure everyone had enough water and trash bags. Our team collected the typical items one might expect to find on the side of a major highway: cigarette butts, bottles and cans, snack and fast food packaging, plastic bags, and the like. Each year, however, there always seems to be a few unique items that surprise the volunteers: this time, there were diapers, full car bumpers and other plastic car parts (likely left over from various fender benders), and even a full deer skeleton.
Our own Peter Margules, who has been coordinating these efforts at NTH for over 14 years, recounted the tale of the most interesting item he saw this time around: “The most interesting thing I encountered was bits and pieces of furniture stuffing. We kept seeing chunks of synthetic fluff, which must have been batting, for over a hundred yards, then came to a large piece of upholstery foam. Someone’s sofa cushion must have been seeking its freedom, only to have its hopes dashed by gravity.” You never know what you’ll find on the sides of Michigan roads, but after our efforts, combined with the efforts of all of the other Adopt-A-Highway volunteers, what you won’t find is litter and trash.