Recently I was invited to serve on the Keep Polk County Beautiful Board of Directors. It's not a huge stretch, really. I served as the organization's executive director for three years, so it's a no-brainer that I believe in the mission.
KPCB's signature event, The Great American Cleanup, is March 29, so that's what I am focusing on today. This is a day where thousands of volunteers band together to make this place a bit more beautiful. They pick up litter from parks, roadsides, schools and businesses. They plant flowers. They collect items for recycling.
Here's a sad fact: every year, KPCB gets more volunteers than the previous year, but they also pick up more trash. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't the work of a litter prevention organization accomplish so much that each year, less trash is picked up because there's less of it out there? I wish that were true.
You can help make that an attainable goal several ways:
- Do your part by volunteering to participate in the Great American Cleanup.
- If you have children, teach them not to litter. Your first step should be setting a good example and not being a litterbug yourself!
- If you are a smoker, cigarette butts are litter, too. STOP THROWING THEM OUT YOUR CAR WINDOW AND ON THE GROUND.
- If you live in unincorporated Polk County, the city of Lakeland, or several other cities that offer curbside recycling, participate in the program. If you don't have a recycling bin, call your Solid Waste Department and request one. They'll deliver it right to your door.
- Cover your load. If you're hauling something in the back of your truck, cover it or properly secure it so it won't fly out. If trash blows out the back of your truck, you are littering.
- Report people who you see littering. The KPCB Web site offers a way of doing so by submitting a Litter Trooper Report.
Volunteers who participate in the Great American Cleanup will receive free T-shirts and free passes to Historic Bok Sanctuary, while supplies last. For more information, call the KPCB office: 863-676-7019.
If you live in Lakeland and you can't participate in KPCB's March 29 event, sign up to participate in a Lakeland Clean & Beautiful event by calling 863-834-3306. Winter Haven residents can participate in Keep Winter Haven Beautiful's event on March 15 by calling 863-291-5662.None of these dates are good for you? Don't worry. Great American Cleanup activities begin March 1 and run through May 31. Don't be afraid to gather your friends, family members and neighbors and do your own cleanup. KPCB and the other local Keep America Beautiful affiliates provide gloves, trash bags and litter grabbers for cleanups any time of year.
For those of you who don't live in Polk County, I invite you to visit the Keep America Beautiful Web site. Here, you can find an affiliate near you so you can get involved in the Great American Cleanup.