Kokomo, IN – Taylor Primary, Recycle-Bowl Winner

Kokomo, IN – Taylor Primary: Recycle-Bowl Winner

The winners of “Recycle-Bowl,” the first nationwide recycling competition for elementary-, middle- and high-school students. Recycle-Bowl, sponsored by Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA), reached more than 900,000 students across America with schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia competing.

First place went to Taylor Primary in Kokomo, Ind., where students recycled 47 pounds of waste per child. If all students in America recycled at the rate of this year’s Recycle-Bowl competitors, approximately 2.4 million tons of material would be diverted annually from landfills. That would be the weight of 201,135 school buses.

Keep Orlando Beautiful, FL – USCC

Orlando Students Help Grow Tomatoes for Community Gardens and Food Banks

Keep Orlando Beautiful (KOB) recently worked with other local nonprofits, students and compost producers to kick off a new gardening project in downtown Orlando, as part of a nationwide collaborative effort to build healthy soil and grow healthy food for community gardens and food banks.

Volunteers and local youth put down compost at Downtown Credo’s community garden and planted tomatoes and other vegetables at a community garden located at the New Image Youth Center in the historic Parramore community. In addition to growing vegetables, youths will sell the produce at the farmer’s markets and learn to cook fresh food from the garden.

This event was part of Keep America Beautiful partner U.S. Composting Council’s Million Tomato Campaign, which brings together compost producers, chefs, community gardens and food banks from all over the nation to help build healthy soil and produce sustainably grown, local food for our communities.

“We’re so excited to see this campaign getting off the ground in Orlando,” said Michael Virga, executive director of the U.S. Composting Council. “By working together to build healthy soil and grow healthy food, we can offer meaningful ways for kids to learn about improving their local environment and their own health.”

Harveyville, KS – Topeka/Shawnee County

Re-Plant, Re-Paint, Re-Build, Re-New Harveyville

In February 2012, the town of Harveyville, Kan., was devastated by a tornado. The damage to the community was severe, with 60 percent of the small town residents having damage to their properties.

Keep America Beautiful – Topeka/Shawnee County used a $20,000 Lowe’s/KAB Community Improvement Grant for its “Re-plant, Re-paint, Re-build, Re-new Harveyville” project. This past fall, 120 volunteers gathered to plant 50 trees to replace the old ones that had been uprooted by the tornado.

Many of the people in Harveyville are lifelong residents whose families have lived there for generations. With the help of the local Lowe’s store and volunteers, 19 properties had improvements made to them after the tornado. This created a domino effect in many neighborhoods, which led to the whole community benefitting from the beautification efforts.

Volunteers stated that they felt like they became a part of the community and that their presence lifted the spirits of those residents impacted by the storm. The project in Harveyville truly embodies KAB’s goal of bringing people together to build and sustain vibrant communities.

Keep Columbus Beautiful, OH

“Plant Pride on Parsons” Makes Columbus Proud

By Sherri Palmer, Program Manager, Keep Columbus Beautiful

The City of Columbus and Keep Columbus Beautiful (KCB), in conjunction with the Neighborhood Design Center, South Side Neighborhood Pride Center and the Parsons Avenue Merchants Association, received a 2012 Lowe’s/KAB Community Improvement Grant targeted for assistance to small businesses and property owners along Parson Avenue as an expansion of the “Plant Pride on Parsons” beautification efforts which began in 2010.

The project is working to improve the front of properties that show a need on a two-mile stretch of the Avenue. The Neighborhood Design Center offered tasteful suggestions of paint colors and simple design ideas to enhance and freshen up the façade of the businesses. The paint and painting supplies were paid for through the grant and all labor was completed by supervised volunteers.

The “facelift” took place in two phases. On Aug. 15, 200 Lowe’s Heroes handled “prep work” — sanding, scraping, priming and removal of rotted wood on those properties who signed off to be a project participant. This was followed on Aug. 25 by 600-plus volunteers from the Vineyard Church, a key partner in the 2012 Columbus Volunteer Challenge. Vineyard members and their families painted storefronts, trash containers and picked up litter on Parsons, parallel alleys and side streets.

The grant also was used to target litter. Despite bi-annual cleanups, litter remained a problem along this 2½-mile stretch of Parsons. Grant dollars were used to purchase litter abatement equipment and other supplies that will be used to urge both daily and monthly efforts toward eliminating accumulating trash and debris in the business district.

A clean and green business district sends a strong message that there is pride in the corridor and in the adjacent neighborhoods. The grant is a just a first step in helping existing or vacant businesses along the Avenue to enhance their property, attract new customers, sell or lease empty buildings, and reduce crime.

On Sept. 8, during the first-ever Keep America Beautiful “National Planting Day,” members of the surrounding Parsons Avenue neighborhoods and South Side community were invited to help transition 126 hand-painted planters from summer blooms to fresh fall foliage.

By working together, we are making Columbus a cleaner, safer and more beautiful city in which to live, work and raise our families.

Recyclemania – Pacific Lutheran

Pacific Lutheran University: “Garbology” Waste Sort

A day of sorting through food scraps, tennis balls, candy wrappers, and other material paid off as passersby at Pacific Lutheran University stopped to comment on the mountain of “stuff” that could have been diverted from the waste stream. Some were so shocked that they questioned the results of the waste audit.

“It just proved that we needed an eye-opener,” said Chrissy Cooley, PLU’s sustainability coordinator, who is overseeing the Tacoma, Wash.’s university’s participation in RecycleMania, the national collegiate recycling competition that is administered by Keep America Beautiful.

PLU diverts more than 70 percent of its waste, and this event helped show the community that more can be done. A team effort by several campus groups, the biggest challenge was getting the word out in advance of the event. “It’s not so hard to dump a bunch of trash and sort it. It’s hard to let students know why we’re doing this,” said Cooley.

Thinking of organizing your own “Garbology?” Read about how Cooley and her team revamped PLU’s RecycleMania marketing plan and improved its waste diversion rate.

Montgomery Clean City Commission, AL

MCCC Participates In Creation of New City Park

Montgomery Clean City Commission (MCCC), Alabama Power, the City of Montgomery and Maxwell Air Force Base, are joining forces to create the new 1.25-acre Maxwell Park. The City will take unserviceable land and convert it into a recreational area featuring a boat ramp for the exclusive use of non-motorized boats and a scenic overview of the Alabama River.

On February 16, MCCC brought in a group of 110 volunteers from Maxwell AFB to start the arduous task of removing years of accumulated rubbish. More than 400 bags of debris were filled and removed, but plenty of trash remained for further cleanups. On March 2, volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol, Montgomery Rowing Club, and Master Gardeners continued the task. And MCCC has another cleanup and green-up scheduled for March 16, with 18 pallets of sod being delivered. A rain garden was also built, thanks to funding from Coca-Cola.

Susan Carmichael, MCCC’s executive director, reports that it will be moving on to a larger project called Peacock Tract, which is a two-year neighborhood revitalization project in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights march.

“We will be integrating the principals of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design,” Carmichael said. “This will be the largest project MCCC has been involved with since we began in 1975. It’s huge! Everything from tearing down buildings to removing sidewalks to taking out brick walls and steps to painting a collage on some large slabs, removing and planting new trees, restoring buildings and so much more.”

The cleanup initiative is far from done, however. There will be cleanups throughout the spring Great American Cleanup period and into the summer.

If anyone is interested in volunteering in Montgomery, Ala., contact Susan Carmichael at (334) 241-2175 or scarmichael@montgomeryal.gov .

Keep Lexington Beautiful, KY

Planting Natives Restores Natural Beauty to Community Stream in Lexington, KY

Last October, Lexington, Ky., community members had a unique opportunity to help Keep Lexington Beautiful eradicate invasive species and uncover the beauty of a local business corridor and stream. On a cold and rainy day volunteers removed nearly 85 tons of invasive bush honeysuckle and other plant debris from the area, and installed 100 native trees and shrubs.

The aggressive bush honeysuckle can become a huge problem along waterways, especially in Kentucky. The massive amount of invasive species overtaking the corridor hampered residents and drivers from knowing about the stream and habitat that existed underneath it all.

Not only were the aesthetics of this historic business corridor affected negatively over time, but the amount of storm water runoff and pollution had long been diminishing the water quality of the river. Local students tested the water with kits provided by the state utility company; this helped provide a baseline for testing the improvement of the quality over time.

Fortunately, the volunteers not only beautified the area, they also collected 440 pounds of recyclables and 1.5 tons of trash and debris that had been littered along the corridor and in the stream.
Lexington continues to be a great city thanks to so many of its citizens volunteering to make it more beautiful.