Keeping Florida Beautiful
Keep America Beautiful (KAB) was established in 1953 as a national nonprofit to inspire people to improve and beautify their communities. Today, the organization involves the work of more than 620 community-based affiliates that employ programs to improve recycling, end littering, and beautify communities. Several of these affiliates are in our area.
Locally, KAB affiliates follow the same mission to beautify communities, but many have public outreach volunteers working to inspire people to take part in beneficial and interesting programs that are specific to their corner of Florida.
The Keep Brevard Beautiful (KBB) affiliate has a “Litter Quitter” program, supported by the Brevard Zoo, that partners with local restaurants to reduce single-use plastics, plastic bags and Styrofoam. Local businesses that participate in the changes receive free marketing, discounts on sustainable products and networking opportunities.
Keep Indian River Beautiful (KIRB), has a thrift and craft store called “The Upcycle It!” It started out as a reuse and exchange center but progressed to a unique shopping experience that provides upcycle ideas to create or re-purpose items into art. The store relies on people to donate items they don’t wish to end up in a landfill, in addition to crafting supplies. The eclectic mix of items are sold to be refurbished or repurposed in some way. The proceeds are used to support KIRB’s other programs.
Volunteers and groups can adopt-a-street or adopt-a-beach to keep clean of litter through Keep Martin Beautiful, among many other events and ongoing programs such as monofilament recycling stations and a student-run organization, called Students4H2O, which believes every individual matters and a sustainable community will in turn lead to a sustainable planet.
Each local affiliate of KAB has programs and events to assist in keeping Florida beautiful. Perhaps the largest, involves people the world over.
On Saturday, September 21, many affiliates of KAB are partnering with Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). The ICC began more than three decades ago, when communities collected and documented the trash along their coastlines. The movement was primarily furthered by two committed individuals, Linda Maraniss, a former employee of Ocean Conservancy, and her Ocean Conservancy colleague, Kathy O’Hara, who was writing a report called Plastics in the Ocean: More than a Litter Problem (published in 1987).
Maraniss and O’Hara, in conjunction with local officials, businesses and volunteers, held the first event to pick up trash and record each item. The hope was to identify ways to eliminate ocean trash in the future.
Now, volunteers throughout the U.S. and more than 100 countries come together each year to participate in the ICC by working with a Cleanup event near them. The results of 30 years of Cleanup events include more than 12 million volunteers collecting over 220 million pounds of trash.
It’s not just the recycling and cleanup events that will make a difference to the environment, to myriad land and sea animals and to the future of human health—it’s also our daily personal decisions. Whether it’s holding onto trash until the proper recycle bin is located, learning how to create a lagoon-friendly lawn, finding out about sustainable alternatives to plastic, getting involved in a community project or taking part in a global cleanup, there is room for everyone to step up and help keep our part of America beautiful.
To find your local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and see what else is happening in Florida, see KeepFloridaBeautiful.org or call 321.543.4582.
For more information on the September 21 International Coastal Cleanup see OceanConservancy.org/trash-free-seas/international-coastal-cleanup/.