Keep Georgia Beautiful’s annual “Bring One for the Chipper”

When the Christmas season comes to an end, Keep Georgia Beautiful is working hard to host it’s annual Bring One for the Chipper Christmas tree recycling event.  With nearly 300 collection sites throughout Georgia, it is the largest Christmas tree recycling in the nation.  Through a partnership with Earth-911 and the support of Home Depot, The Davey Tree Company and WXIA11-Alive, Keep Georgia Beautiful has successfully hosted Bring One for the Chipper for the past 23 years.

Since the program started in 1991, Georgia has been successful in recycling over 6 million trees with an average of about 200,000 trees each year. “It is a great way to divert [the trees] from landfills and an easy way to close the loop. A lot are used for mulch and some trees are sunk into rivers for fish and wildlife habitat,” explained Kanika Greenlee, the director of programs and development for Keep Georgia Beautiful.

According to Keep Georgia Beautiful, the mulch from these trees has been used for playgrounds, local government beautification projects, and individual yards. Mulched landscapes help absorb runoff and prevent erosion during times of heavy rainfall.

This year, the Bring One for the Chipper event will take place on Saturday, January 4, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Georgia residents can visit www.KeepGeorgiaBeautiful.org for a list of drop-off centers by zip codes throughout the state.

Captain Planet Foundation, Atlanta GA

As a recipient of a KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, the Captain Planet Foundation would like to thank KAB and Lowe’s for supporting the expansion of the Captain Planet Learning Gardens (CPLG) Program into Ventura County, Calif. elementary schools. The CPLG program is a comprehensive and innovative approach to the school garden concept that invites schools to consider their garden as an extension of the classroom. The school garden serves as a living laboratory that is embraced and utilized by the entire school community across multiple disciplines and school subjects.

The CPLG program aims to address the high obesity and low nutrition rates among under-served children, while helping them to develop a connection to nature and a sense of place in their communities. School gardens have been proven to build an ethic in students (and often times their families) for environmental stewardship — leading to a deeper understanding of the natural world and creating a desire to implement beautification efforts at school and around their communities. The CPLG program ensures that every student has an opportunity to increase their time outdoors while learning about and tasting fresh fruits and vegetables each month during the school year — building an appreciation and palate for healthy food options.

To KAB and Lowe’s — we deeply appreciate your dedication to our mission of building an educated generation of eco-visionaries and environmental change-makers. As Captain Planet says, “The Power is yours!”

Keep Brunswick County Beautiful, Bolivia, NC

This Keep Brunswick County Beautiful project has transformed a ¾-acre, partially fenced-in rough field area in an undeserved geographical area into a fully supplied community garden that is aesthetically pleasing.

The garden area includes: 30 raised beds, including six that are potentially wheel-chair accessible; a garden shed with gutters and two rain barrels; a composting area; two picnic tables; a bench; four water hydrants for water accessibility; and an outdoor enclosed bulletin board. Some key points of interest include two keyhole beds that are especially low on water consumption and are great educational tools for sustainability; a shed that includes individual storage bins for gardeners that can also function as a communication tool; dry-erase boards inside the shed doors also for communication; and compost bins made from recycled pallets. We also landscaped the outside perimeter of the fence.

The project was funded by a KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, with many different organizations, local contractors, and individual volunteers participating in the physical construction of the garden. We hope that our project will aid local residents in areas of community pride, healthy nutrition, movement for healthy lifestyles, supplying local food pantries with fresh produce, and social interaction and integrative activities.

The community has been extremely positive about the project. People have personally told us that they used to “just not drive in that area.” Now they do so purposefully, just to look at the garden. One person said it makes her feel happy when she drives by. When we are working in the garden, an increasing number of people just stop by to chat or ask questions or request information. It is extremely rewarding. I have also seen neighboring properties taking more pride in the appearance of their yards and homes.

Sustainable Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY

Sustainable Flatbush, the recipient of a KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, would like to thank Lowe’s for supporting our Community Compost Project with a grant of $5,000. Our Compost Project provides a neighborhood-based resource where Flatbush, Brooklyn residents can recycle kitchen scraps and yard waste and learn about the compost process by participating and observing it in action. We collaborate with local schools, churches, youth groups, businesses and neighbors to reduce the amount of waste generated in our community.

Our goal is to convert composting from a fringe practice to a mainstream activity by demystifying the process and training our neighbors in practical composting skills. Using compost as a vehicle, we promote environmental advocacy, activism, and stewardship on a local scale.

Keep McAllen Beautiful, McAllen, Texas

Keep McAllen Beautiful has completed it’s sustainable irrigation pilot project! Thanks to the KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, and with some great help from the City of McAllen, KMB and its volunteers installed a beautification project on a major thoroughfare in McAllen, Texas. The project is particularly special as it demonstrates an innovative new method of irrigation which uses solar-powered pumps and stormwater runoff to irrigate the plant matter that was installed for the project.

The project was accomplished with help from high school volunteers, professional architects and engineers, and the dedicated employees from the City of McAllen. It represents an innovation in water conservation and environmentally sustainable urban beautification projects. “Project Grove,” as the effort has been dubbed, includes 23 native trees and over 600 climate-adapted plants on a major thoroughfare in the McAllen cityscape. It reuses stormwater runoff captured in a city drainage canal and re-utilizes this water to maintain the plants and trees planted along the side of the street.

Keep McAllen Beautiful thanks all the volunteers, Lowe’s, Keep America Beautiful, and the City of McAllen for making this project possible! We hope it helps to establish a new standard of environmental responsibility and innovative conservation in our community!

I Pledge to Recycle More – America Recycles Day

This year, to help celebrate America Recycles Day (ARD), Keep America Beautiful invited people to give their garbage another life and pledge to recycle more by taking the “I Recycle” pledge online via the ARD website or QR Code.  More than 8,000 people accepted that invitation and shared what they plan on doing to recycle more in 2013 and beyond.

To help educate people about how recycled materials can be transformed into exciting and useful things, all pledges taken online from Jan. 1, through Nov. 30, 2013, were entered into a drawing for one of 10 park benches made from recycled plastic, courtesy of Plastic Recyclers of Iowa Falls! These recycled content park benches are a great example that material can become something new and valuable when it is recycled.

One of the recipients, Bill Roscoe, a teacher from Avenue Elementary School in Illinois, plans to use his new four-foot park bench as the centerpiece in his school’s new garden. The bench will serve as a reminder for the students about the impact recycling can have on their community – and the world. Another winner, David Watson, decided to donate his park bench to his local KAB affiliate, Keep Pearland (Texas) Beautiful.

Additional winners include:

  • Hanover Park Regional High School in New Jersey
  • Metairie Park Country Day School in Louisiana
  • Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia
  • John Vinson from Van Buren, Ark.
  • Radford University in Virginia
  • Teresa Rouse from North Carolina
  • Phyllis Weiss from Georgia
  • Prince William County Government

Congratulations to all our 2013 ARD Pledge Drive winners. Don’t forget to come back and take the “I Recycle” pledge in 2014!

Orange County Coastkeeper, Costa Mesa, CA

Thanks to a KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, Orange County Coastkeeper opened the Coastkeeper Garden, a demonstration garden featuring six native plant communities, drought-tolerant vegetation, and a natural playground. The grant helped us establish an active docent program, launch a series of free workshops, and complete construction on our natural playground. The garden sits on a parcel of land behind a community college that was previously vacant, untended and unused. The space is now flourishing and vibrant, helping to connect youth to the natural environment and inspiring local residents how to save water and reduce water pollution.

The natural playground, in particular, has been a positive and meaningful addition to the community, providing a unique venue for children to play and explore. We’ve had hundreds of young visitors come to enjoy the deer grass maze, willow tree tunnel, and log pathways. We’ve also hosted a number of events designed to promote nature connection and creativity, including adobe brick building, pumpkin painting, and for older kids, making succulent arrangements.

Our sustainable landscaping workshop series has had a great start. These hands-on workshops are offered free of charge, and inspire local residents to plan, design, and maintain their own drought-tolerant gardens. Our vision is that every visitor to the garden will carry away the message that water and energy conservation can be simple, cost-efficient, low-maintenance, and beautiful.