Code for BTV's 4th Year with Green Up Vermont

The Green Mountain state of Vermont, like most states, is home to a solid number of events and traditions that aren’t seen anywhere else in the country. Other states and counties may have their own versions of similar traditions, but there’s one in Vermont that isn’t seen anywhere else in the country, despite it being the one that the country perhaps could use the most of. For any resident Vermonters, it’s clear that I’m referring to Green Up Day.

Green Up Day, for those who may be unaware, is an annual event recognized to take place on the first Saturday of May. Its purpose, as the name implies, is a state-wide effort to “green up” Vermont by picking up roadside garbage and disposing of it properly in bags. This year, thanks to the current pandemic, Green Up Day has been pushed back from the first Saturday this month (May 2nd, 2020) to the last one (May 30th, 2020). But thanks to the tireless work done at Code for BTV, this Green Up Day will once again see the implementation of a service to help us clean the streets in this trying time. And, as most services are nowadays, it fits directly on your phone.

The GreenUp App is a tool to help people on the titular day plan, coordinate and execute one of the most underrated “holidays” in recent memory. I put “holidays” in quotations because (well, it’s technically just an annual event, but also because...) unlike Christmas or Halloween, which are all about receiving and enjoying, Green Up Day is about giving back to the world, picking up after yourself, taking time out of your day to help the planet and community in spite of anything else. And with this app, meeting people (at a safe distance) who are also involved, communicating with them and getting more people involved, will have never been easier.

To get a better understanding of what the app does and how it was designed, I had the pleasure of speaking to Irit Ziv Seligman, this year’s primary API developer on the Green Up team. In her own words as to how the app is meant to be used: “It’s to connect people more easily, to coordinate and join teams, work with teams, and with how, especially now, how the world changed a little especially for young people. This is possibly a way to get them to connect, get them engaged and to actually participate.”

"[I] heard about Green Up day actually through Code for BTV. I think it represents Vermont and how much Vermont cares about the environment and the community, and it’s also a great way to bring them together."

Irit elaborated on her thoughts on Green Up Day at large, saying that: “I am new to the state, been here less than two years, and heard about Green Up day actually through Code for BTV. I think it represents Vermont and how much Vermont cares about the environment and the community, and it’s also a great way to bring them together. Also I’m excited to see my kids do it, because it will teach them about the environment and taking care of it. And of course I assume the results are also freaking’ awesome.”

The app is currently in its fourth year of being available to the public, but it can’t be denied that it feels almost meant to be for the current health crisis on all of our hands. It’s a blessing that a service such as this is available when Green Up Day needs it the most; when people still need to get outside and help the environment but can’t put their health and safety at risk. It’s an undeniable advantage to be able to take part while still managing to stay safe and healthy. Let alone, it’s a testament to the forward thinking and development going on at Code for BTV. Irit also goes on to say that: “I’ve done some testing of the app which kind of exposes me to the user aspect of it. I think keeping it relatively simple in terms of use will make sure that people who are a little less tech savvy find it just as accessible. And I think maybe the other part is that maybe it can be improved, efficiency can be improved.”

The benefits of this app are a long list at best, to the point at which it may sound like an infomercial. It could help with everything from basic coordination such as what teams gather what trash, what team you want to be a part of, all the way down to where the trash is to be gathered and where to drop it off. It, like most technology when applied to a real world issue, has insurmountable potential and has already become a mainstay of Green Up Day as a whole within just its four, short years. The app is available right now on the app store and Google Play for anyone willing to make the state of Vermont a cleaner, greener place.