Mint Hill Community Works Together To Combat Litter

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MINT HILL, NC – It started with a post in the “What’s Up Mint Hill? The Original Group” Facebook page.  “The amount of litter I’ve seen around Mint Hill lately makes me so sad,” read the original post on February 7 accompanied by a photograph.  “Then seeing this in my yard today, I’m just so frustrated! Does anyone know what I can do to stop this? Anything Town Hall might be able to do? I don’t understand why people are so lazy and can’t wait to throw things away until when they get to an actual trash can.”

Overflowing garbage can
Overflowing garbage can

The post immediately inspired over one hundred comments from people who were equally sad and frustrated over the amount of trash littering our town.  Some people looked to lay blame on waste management trucks that leave a trail of litter behind them, people who aren’t bagging their trash correctly, or outsiders passing through Mint Hill.  Others cried for accountability, calling for higher fines and even video surveillance to catch would-be litterers in the act.  Still, others looked to someone else to handle the problem, asking what Town Hall could do or if inmates still pick up trash on highways.

Amidst the complaints, a few voices emerged who asked: what can we do to fix this problem?

“I responded to a comment on the original post,” says Addie Kirby.  “Everyone was complaining.  I complained, too,” she admits.  “But then I said what if we get a group of five people together? We can organize it and go clean up!”

Kirby’s plan was simple.  Whoever was interested would meet in front of 1st Choice Properties (where Kirby works as a realtor) at 9:00 am on Saturday, February 13.  Kirby would purchase trash bags and gloves.  Volunteers would bring trash home with them to dispose of or drop it off at the Hickory Grove Recycling Center.

Kirby hoped she could gather a small group, maybe five people, but she was overwhelmed by the community response.  Kirby quickly gathered a group of close to 40 individuals who were eager to help clean up Mint Hill’s streets.

Orange trash bag
Orange trash bags will be provided and picked up by the Town of Mint Hill

One of those people was Commissioner Tony Long, who put Kirby in touch with Assistant to the Town Manager Sheryl Smith.  Smith helped Kirby secure orange trash bags, which can be left at a stop sign for the town to pick up and dispose of, and a limited number of reflective vests to ensure the safety of volunteers working on the side of busy roads.

“One of the reasons I love Mint Hill is if you’ve got an idea, people will rally together to make it possible,” says Kirby.  A former resident of Mint Hill currently living in the Plaza Midwood area, Kirby and her husband both work in Mint Hill and hope to move back in the future.  “We’re lovers of the community, and I’m looking to move back into Mint Hill to purchase a home in 2022,” says Kirby.  “I want to make sure it’s as clean as I left it!”

For Kirby, getting rid of litter is not just about aesthetics; it’s also a safety issue.  “Tony Long took a drive and picked up some trash the other day,” says Kirby.  “He told me he picked up four tires that were in the road!  We’ve seen sofas on the side of the road.  So it’s somewhere between safety, home value, and who wants to look at trash in your yard if there’s somewhere else to put it?”

Unfortunately, heavy rain over the weekend forced Kirby to postpone Saturday’s clean-up effort.  She’s planning to reschedule for a date in March when the weather will hopefully be better.  If you’re interested in participating, you can use the Google Form Kirby created to sign up for updates and select which dates work best for you.

Kirby’s effort is a small but inspiring example of how we can all be the change we hope to see in the world.  “I really just want people if they see a problem in their neighborhood, in their town, if they can come up with a solution, I just encourage them to go for it!” says Kirby.  “It doesn’t have to be Earth Day to clean up.  I’m just excited to see everyone come out.  It’s exciting to see other folks are as interested to solve this problem as I am.” 

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her five-year-old daughter Hannah and her two-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: