I was taught at a young age that littering is simply not okay. The only things my parents would occasionally let us toss out the car window when we were kids were apple cores and banana peels (in the country) because, as my mom would say, "the bugs and critters will eat them." I'm not sure at what point in time it became the norm for people to toss trash wherever they please, but it's everywhere.

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Heading to the river? Expect to see beer cans, fast food packaging and discarded styrofoam worm containers at every parking area and access point. Out walking the dog? Ditto. When driving down Montana Avenue it's nearly impossible not to see tons of litter. It gets stuck in the fences and bushes, especially along the train tracks from the 6th St Underpass, all the way down to the east end of Montana Ave.  It's disgusting. Visitors to Billings must be really impressed.

Michael Foth ~ Townsquare Media Billings
Michael Foth ~ Townsquare Media Billings

The owners of Liberty and Vine decided to do something about it and next month will mark the one year anniversary of their volunteer litter pick-up days. They are held the first Sunday of every month, from 8 am to 10 am. Store owner Amy Pawlowski told me they usually have six to ten volunteers who regularly participate and on some months as many as forty people have pitched in to help.

Oddly, one of the most unusual items they always find while picking up trash is playing cards. Dozens and dozens of them. Weird, huh? Volunteers often find cash, even a $20! Amy once found an unopened pack of peanut M&M's and they have found plenty of other, ahem, unmentionables. Usually they collect at least a truck load of garbage and sometimes two or three pickup loads.

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Gloves and those cool garbage-picker-upper-stick things are provided, courtesy of Bright-n-Beautiful and a limited number of hi-vis safety vests are available too. They meet at 8 a.m. at Liberty and Vine and focus primarily on picking up litter along Montana Ave, 1st, and 2nd Ave N and some of the side streets, depending on time. Refreshments are offered post-cleanup. With the strong winds in the forecast this week, you can count on there being tons of trash blowing around downtown, which should make the February 7th litter pick-up day a big one. I'm hoping to enlist a couple of my kids and lend a hand.

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