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By: Mary Jean Yon, Executive Director, on April 30, 2018
A little over 20 years ago, somebody at Keep America Beautiful (KAB) had a pretty good idea. “Hey, let’s organize the biggest cleanup ever and get everybody to come out and pick up trash and make their community look great. We’ll call it the Great American Cleanup!”
Fast forward to 2018 and it is easy to see what a great idea that was. Last year, there were more than 600 KAB Affiliates nationwide that organized events and picked up over 186 million pounds of debris and litter. Here in Florida, we accounted for three million pounds of that debris as the Florida Affiliates took on roadways and waterways and cleaned them up. We estimate those efforts accounted for more than 8,500 miles of roadway and 2,700 miles of shoreline and waterways cleaned up by volunteers throughout our state.
Traditionally, KAB kicks off the Great American Cleanup on the first day of spring each year. Not to brag (too much), but here in Florida, we have the blessing of warmer weather and many of our affiliates are off and running long before March 20 every year. Roads, waterways, forests, beaches… you name it, it gets cleaned up. You can also find an assortment of beautification projects such as tree plantings, garden projects and more that are conducted in addition to litter and debris removal.
We also enjoy a partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and assist in implementing the “Drive It Home- Keep Our Paradise Litter-Free” campaign which seeks to raise awareness and educate the motoring public on litter prevention. Combine these efforts with the Great American Cleanup efforts and you have a Trash-Off!
Last year, there were over 8,000 cleanup events held in Florida and 2018 appears to be off to just as great of a start. If you were one of the 87,000 volunteers who came out to help in 2017, we thank you! If the Great American Cleanup/Trash-Off is new to you and you want to get involved, here are some ways to find the event that is ready-made just for you:
The theme of this year’s Great American Cleanup/Trash-Off is “Clean Your Block” party which encourages people to also organize cleanups and beautification projects on their own block or neighborhood. So that presents one more option if you have difficulty finding an organized event - create your own! There is no limit to the good we can do as we strive to improve the communities in which we live.