Gus Vandermeeren is breaking records in North Carolina. So far, he has collected 6,272 bags of trash and counting. By far, he has collected the most trash compared to any other volunteer in North Carolina’s adopt-a-highway program.
Gus’ devotion to picking up trash has nothing to do with receiving special recognition or fame, but has everything to do with helping out his community and saving the environment.
Gus told the Charlotte Observer in a recent interview, “I just try to do what I can, If I can do it, why not? Saves everybody a little bit of money. Makes the world look nicer. [And] feeds my soul, even though I’m an atheist.”
In Raleigh, Gus has officially adopted 2 miles of New Bern Avenue between the Neuse River and Corporation Drive. On the signpost under the “Adopt a Highway” sign, you will see his name printed. And depending on the day, you might see him picking up trash on this strip of highway.
Because Gus collects so much trash, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has given him his own dumping spot. Plus, Gus has acquired a special Chevy van to accommodate everything he needs to pick up trash, which includes seven pairs of tongs.
If you want to help out Gus, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and join his mailing list.
And if this story has inspired you to adopt a section of North Carolina road to keep clean, click here. There is no fee to be a part of the program. NCDOT just asks volunteers to commit at least four years to a 2-mile stretch of roadway.
It is quite admirable to pick up someone else’s trash off a busy roadway, but this is not a task for everyone. At the very least, consider how you can produce less litter and how you can prevent trash on our North Carolina roadways.
Remember: it takes all of us to keep our state clean and to protect our wildlife.