I spy on I-5 a...bunch of orange bags
April 27, 2014 8:44 PM   Subscribe

While driving up to Portland on I-5, my friend and I noted a lot of stuffed orange bags. Well, "a lot" may be overstating, but we saw enough to get curious - what's in them?

I counted at least six spots of bags, seemingly random, between Sacramento and Redding. They look the size of your average large trash bag or bigger, and always stuffed quite full. We thought they might just be trash, but why bright orange? Visibility for cleanup crews? Special kind of waste? I don't remember seeing them elsewhere.
posted by curagea to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Work crew (riding in a van) around here walk the highway filling them up, then they are left there. I assume a truck picks them up later.
posted by beccaj at 8:47 PM on April 27, 2014

Yep, roadside cleanup. The crew cleans up a section of highway and leaves the full bags. A different group picks 'em up. The orange is so the pickup crew can see them from a distance and slow down safely to get them.
posted by notsnot at 8:50 PM on April 27, 2014

Beccaj has it; the bags are filled by a crew of workers in a van, who are then followed sometime later by a second crew in a garbage truck. It's more efficient that way, because the filling and the collecting can each happen at their own pace.

The bags are orange so that the pickup crew doesn't miss them, and also to differentiate them from bags that shouldn't be there (bags of litter).
posted by Scientist at 8:51 PM on April 27, 2014

The orange trash bags are part of the "Don't Trash California" campaign. Part of the bags being orange is to bring attention to the volume of the trash that Caltrans has to pick up.
posted by birdherder at 8:51 PM on April 27, 2014

Another vote for roadside cleanup. My girl scout troop did one of those Adopt a Highway things and they gave us those neon orange bags to fill.
posted by troika at 8:53 PM on April 27, 2014

a crew of workers in a van

Who, depending on where you are, may be prisoners. If you see a van and someone in a uniform with a shotgun in the vicinity of those bags, it's probably not girl scouts doing the cleanup.
posted by holgate at 9:23 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

Roadside cleanup. I often see vans of prisoners (vans labeled with the MD Department of Corrections logo and having state government plates) picking trash up off the side of the road and stuffing the trash in big orange bags. The bags tend to sit on the side of the road for a while and then are picked up at some point.

Seems like it's the same in California, or any other state.
posted by tckma at 12:12 PM on April 28, 2014

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