Photo by Hector Argüello Canals

Keeping America Beautiful: A Community Effort

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It’s that time of year again, when the sun ends its hibernation and the snow begins to melt away like a not-so-fond memory. Beneath it are revealed spring’s first buds and blades of grass, worms in search of a fresh start, acorns giving life to oak trees — and trash.

Styrofoam fast-food cups and plastic straws, chip bags, candy wrappers, soda bottles, grocery store bags, beer cans. Last fall’s litter.

The good thing is, we all can help.

This spring, like many others before it, people across America will band together to keep America beautiful as part of the annual Great American Cleanup. Hosted by the aptly named nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, this national community improvement project takes place March 20 through June 20.



Through a network of more than 600 community-based affiliates and partner organizations, Keep America Beautiful hosts cleanups, green-ups and fix-ups in 20,000-plus communities across the country. In the past, more than 1.5 million people have volunteered to help with these efforts by cleaning up America’s roadsides, shorelines and waterways — picking up trash, gathering recyclables and beautifying public spaces.

“No matter where one falls on the political spectrum, all Americans hope to live in healthy and beautiful communities.”

The desire to keep our country beautiful is one thing we all have — or should have — in common, no matter our politics or beliefs. That is the premise of Keep America Beautiful’s 2019 Great American Cleanup. With the launch of its Common Ground Campaign, the organization is inviting local, state and national elected officials to events “to demonstrate that the cleanliness of our communities is our common ground,” according to a press release.

“No matter where one falls on the political spectrum, all Americans hope to live in healthy and beautiful communities,” said Helen Lowman, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. “Creating clean, green and beautiful communities is non-partisan. By volunteering for the Great American Cleanup, you can help Keep America Beautiful transform our public spaces into beautiful places — something we can all believe in.”

With events scheduled throughout the spring in cities and towns across the country, there are many opportunities to get involved. Events and education programs will focus on collecting litter; reducing waste through recycling; renewing parks, trails and recreation areas; and planting trees, flowers and community gardens.



During the 2018 Great American Cleanup, volunteers — logging 9.4 million hours — collected 68 million pounds of recyclables and 24.7 million pounds of litter; beautified 55,400 miles of roads, shorelines and waterways; and cleaned up approximately 21,300 public spaces.

This year’s #cleanYOURblock theme is meant to encourage more people to get involved with their local Keep America Beautiful affiliate and to, hopefully, become inspired to take action in their own neighborhood.

“Working with our affiliates and partners, we can help advance environmentally and economically healthier communities, while making the important connection between people and their places,” Lowman said. “The Great American Cleanup is a great time to encourage our family, friends and neighbors to build community pride and stewardship.”

Learn how you can get involved or find an event in your area here.

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Alexandra Vollman
Alexandra Vollman is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for the outdoors — especially hiking. As the co-founder and editor of Modern Conservationist, she oversees editorial management for the site. She has a bachelor’s degree in media communications and a master’s degree in writing and publishing. Alexandra enjoys using her knack for reporting and storytelling to instill in others a better understanding of and appreciation for nature.

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