Keep America Beautiful

year 2, week 16: this week i'm gonna... keep america beautiful

Volunteers sort recycling at a Cleanup event

Volunteers sort recycling at a Cleanup event

Entering its 19th year, Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup is the nation’s largest community improvement program that takes place in more than 20,000 communities each year. The campaign is led by more than 620 Keep America Beautiful affiliates and hundreds of other partnering organizations, with an estimated 50,000 events formally kicking off around the first day of spring and continuing as weather permits throughout the year. 

Las Cruces, New Mexico is one of the many towns that take part in the Great American Cleanup. The local event coordinator, James Woods, says the program “provides an opportunity for exercise, fun, and community service in a way that gives volunteers ownership in Las Cruces.” 

Painting over graffiti at a Cleanup event

Painting over graffiti at a Cleanup event

A recent Las Cruces Great American Cleanup event started on a Saturday morning with one group of volunteers dispersing to various locations where they cleaned graffiti from walls and removed litter, among other service contributions. Another group from the local university spent the day at a Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

“We planted some beautiful flowers and made the environment better for people at the nursing home," one student states. "My favorite part was seeing the faces of residents at the nursing home. Even though the goal is to keep Las Cruces beautiful, to see the residents smile when they don’t have a lot of visitors is really nice for us.”

This year's Great American Cleanup theme "Clean Your Block Party” encourages all participants to take what they learn from a local Great American Cleanup event in their community and bring it home to organize an event in their own neighborhood. You can get tools to launch your own cleanup event here.

 
Volunteers plant trees at a Keep America Beautiful event

Volunteers plant trees at a Keep America Beautiful event

 

 
 

The mission of Keep America Beautiful is to inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. They envision a country in which every community is a clean, green, and beautiful place to live.

Established in 1953, Keep America Beautiful provides the expertise, programs, and resources to help people end littering, improve recycling, and beautify America’s communities. The organization is driven by the work and passion of more than 620 state and community-based affiliates, over 5 million volunteers, and the support of corporate partners, municipalities, elected officials, NGOs, and individuals. Each and every day, Keep America Beautiful brings people together to transform public spaces into beautiful places, helping to drive positive environmental, economic, and social change. 

You can see more about Keep America Beautiful in the video below.


America Recycles Day, a Keep America Beautiful national initiative, is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States. Every year on and in the weeks leading into Nov. 15, event organizers educate neighbors, friends, and colleagues through thousands of events. Keep America Beautiful provides guides, tools, templates, and tips to make it easy to organize a local event. 

 
 

Nine-year-old Becca Blair of Mississippi has a passion for recycling. She was the winner of the Keep America Beautiful Individual Youth Award in 2016 for her community recycling project.

Becca with her weekly recycling collection (pictured with Walt Grayson, WLBT News)

Becca with her weekly recycling collection (pictured with Walt Grayson, WLBT News)

“One day I read an article about landfills,” says Becca. “I found out that 70 percent of what we throw away can be recycled. I asked my mom if we could recycle, and we went from two bags of trash a day to one bag of trash every four days.”

Becca's father explains how the project expanded: “She turned that into a science experiment at the house and had our household recycle for a week. Then she turned that into a community project and decided to offer recycling to our neighborhood."

Becca gathers reycling from her neighbors (photo credit: Melanie Thortis/The Clarion-Ledger)

Becca gathers reycling from her neighbors (photo credit: Melanie Thortis/The Clarion-Ledger)

Becca created a flyer and distributed it to the 17 houses in her neighborhood, asking if they would recycle. Becca's neighborhood is without curbside recycling pickup, and the nearest recycling roll-off is several miles away at a fire station. She then ordered drawstring tote bags and supplied them to each family that expressed an interest in helping. Neighbors leave their full bags at their front doors each Monday, and Becca picks them up herself and delivers them to the fire station. To date, she has picked up and dropped off more than 3,000 pounds of plastics.

“It makes me feel very proud,” Becca's father states. “She’s out there doing it, no matter what, because she feels like it makes a difference.”


Notes for this week:

  • If you are interested in launching your own clean up event, please click here. For more information on the Great American Cleanup, please click here. If you are interested in organizing a project for America Recycles Day, please click here. And for 10 ways that you can celebrate Keep America Beautiful Month, please click here.
  • Our collective givetwig donation can sponsor recycling or composting bins for classrooms at a K-12 school.
 

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