Adopt a Highway


  • To clean up our island. There is trash everywhere. 
  • To help foment volunteerism in Tenerife. The more involved one is, the more one cares about the island as a whole.

Any person, association, or business can “adopt” a stretch of road and make sure to keep it clean. In return, the group gets recognition in the form of an “Adopt a Highway” sign with the name of the group underneath. 

The “Adopt a Highway” program has been a big success in the USA since the 80’s, spreading from Texas to the rest of the states. Time for it to spread to Tenerife, which desperately needs better litter control. 

Ideally we convince the Cabildo to set up the program, but that may take a while, so let’s start it in clandestine fashion until they can say it was their idea. 

First, choose a stretch of road. Then be patient, and be sure it doesn’t get cleaned up at some point. Certain areas are periodically cleaned; others aren’t.  (I’d chosen the Campitos Mirador, which was a mess, then later on, I noticed they had cleaned it up — to a certain border. So my stretch of road will be the area around that border.)

Once you have cleaned your chosen area, and are willing to commit to re-visiting every so often in order to keep it clean for two years, then it’s time to post a sign, just like in the USA, saying “Adopt a Highway” and your name below. Since this is  project is clandestine, make it the name of your alterego. Pass me your chosen name and I will make the sign for you and show you how to plant it.

Take a photo of your first garbage bag. Keep track of the garbage bags you fill. We may want to deliver this info to the Cabildo.

The Canary Islands are a desert. With so little rainfall, it takes a long time even for toilet paper to decompose. What’s worse, the strong winds take the loose trash right into the sea. Our image of the irresponsible ones are teenagers (McDonald’s litter) and homeless people (“Saturday” beer cans end up in nature the most, so I guess it’s the cheapest beer), but the surprising fact is that “handy wipes” are one of the worst culprits, so does that mean parents are the irresponsible ones? If we can clean up our dog poop without a trace, can’t we clean up our and our kids’ poop without a trace too? As it is, handi wipes dry out and blow into prickly Tenerife bushes, there to stay: a handy wipe Christmas tree for the next 50 years.