Cleaning up communities

Saturday, April 21, 2012

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In the last few years, many have helped transform downtown North Little Rock into a place of beauty. North Little Rock is a local certified affiliate of Keep America Beautiful.
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In the last few years, many have helped transform downtown North Little Rock into a place of beauty. North Little Rock is a local certified affiliate of Keep America Beautiful.

It takes the efforts of many to maintain a healthy environment and preserve the natural surroundings of a state. In Arkansas, the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission has the sole purpose of helping communities continue to be places where people want to work, live and play.

“Our mission is to inspire and educate individuals to prevent litter, recycle and keep Arkansas beautiful,” director Robert Phelps said.

Created as a state commission in 1997, Keep Arkansas Beautiful plays a major role in helping preserve the state’s scenic beauty, environmental health and quality of life.

The commission, a certified state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest community-improvement organization, conducts two major events throughout the year: the spring Great American Cleanup and the fall Great Arkansas Cleanup, when thousands of Arkansans remove tons of trash from the state’s roadways, shorelines, parks and public areas. With the effort of these volunteers, litter is picked up from more than 3,400 miles of roadway, 121 parks and public areas, and 534 miles of shoreline; and illegal dumping sites are removed.

It takes an entire community to make changes in the areas of litter, waste reduction and recycling, and beautification. Successful improvement efforts are organized in communities every day by individuals

from businesses and industries, nonprofit organizations, churches, schools, and city and county governments.

The state’s communities, large and small, show their commitment to keeping Arkansas beautiful by recruiting volunteers and conducting community cleanups and environmental-improvement projects.

“[Keep Arkansas Beautiful] is totally volunteer-driven, so the people of Arkansas are making a difference,” Phelps said.

Currently, 11 communities around the state are Keep America Beautiful local certified affiliates, and he said more are showing interest. In addition to doing volunteer work to make Arkansas a cleaner and greener place, there are other ways to make a difference. These include just being a role model, Phelps said.

“Be a good role model, not only for your children, but for others,” he said. “Don’t litter — put trash in its proper receptacle.”

Also, residents don’t have to address littering issues alone. They can help by calling the statewide, toll-free Litter Hotline to report incidences of littering they observe along any Arkansas roadway.

For more information about the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission and how to get involved, visit keeparkansasbeautiful.com or follow on Facebook.

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