Highway Clean-Up


Highway Clean-Up

April 2023

If you're anything like us, once you start looking at the roadsides in early spring it becomes impossible not to see the accumulation of trash in them...plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and convenience food packaging are everywhere and we only have ourselves to blame.

Likewise, we only have ourselves to count on to clean up the mess we have made on this earth. Sure, we could start pointing fingers. The evidence suggests who is making the mess, but pointing that out won't make the mess go away. The fact is, it is OUR culture that has made it possible for the mess to be created in the first place. Lots of things need to change, but while some people are working on that, others of us could get busy cleaning up the mess.

This spring it really got to me as I was driving down US Highway 14 from Madison to Viroqua. It seemed almost unbelievable that so much trash could be lying all around us and everyone could somehow ignore it, and then I realized that if I don't do something about it, I'm ignoring it, too.

It can be overwhelming when you start to think about the magnitude of the problem, so I've found some peace in ignoring the magnitude of it, and concentrating on what I can do close to home.

This morning (April 5, 2023), my neighbor and I went out to the Liberty Township and cleaned up one mile of the gravel town road I use to get to my printing studio. We finished the job in two hours, which amounted to two 30-gallon trash bags of general litter (food and beverage packaging), a ceiling fan, 5 tires, and a vacuum cleaner.

It is a little sickening when you start to think about two giant trash bags full of litter off one mile of very minor road. Again, the magnitude of the problem becomes overwhelming. But no matter how unwinnable the fight might be, it felt really great to put a dent in it; to at least make an effort to do something about it, rather than continue to ignore the problem. Doing something about it is infectious, and makes a person want to do more.

When I got home I looked into Wisconsin's Adopt-A-Highway Program, and found a few 2-mile sections adjacent to the county road we cleaned this morning are available for adoption. There is also a 3-mile stretch of US HWY 14 south of Viroqua available.

The Adopt-A-Highway program suggests a group of 5-6 volunteers when applying to adopt a highway.


This is a very passive way to get the word out, and to invite people to volunteer, but I don't participate in social media, and I'm not sure how else to start attracting like-minded people.

I'm planning to send out a first-ever newsletter to a list of people who have purchased stickers or t-shirts from driftless.earth to 1) announce the transition from shopdriftless.com (too consumer-y) to driftless.earth, 2) celebrate Earth Day, 3) offer a free stickers promotion [Earth2023], and 4) invite people to join driftless.earth in an effort to clean up our roadside ditches in the future.

Please contact me if you, or your organization, would like to get involved. I would be honored to serve as your leader in this effort.

Thank you for caring about the natural world we share.

My best,

Michael Koppa, artist
owner/designer of driftless.earth
The Heavy Duty Press