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Living in a positive community!
Keep Liberty Beautiful logo
Karen Bell is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.

Living in a positive community can be a game-changer for the community.   It is one that the national organization, Keep America Beautiful, has been fine-tuning a solution since 1953.  Keep America Beautiful (KAB) began when a group of corporate and civic leaders met in New York City to bring the public and private sectors together to develop and promote a national cleanliness ethic.  Keep America Beautiful is one of the leading environmental education organizations in America.  Together 686 affiliates, like Keep Liberty Beautiful, work with KAB to create solutions in our local communities that:

Create clean, beautiful public places

Reduce waste and increase recycling

Generate positive impact on the local economy and economic development

Inspire generations of environmental stewards

Have you ever thought about what makes a positive and thriving community?   One definition for a positive community is an environmentally healthy place, which is the stepping stone to creating a vibrant community.  We work on the assumption and research that positive and thriving communities are rooted in individual responsibility and action. That means taking ownership and having a lasting change that happens when people connect and work together.

Keep Liberty Beautiful tries to recruit local citizens who will commit to preserving the natural beauty, protecting the environment, preventing blight, improving public lands and green spaces, and making communities safer and happier places to live.  Improving the environment and the quality of life of communities begins with that personal responsibility and behavior change, individuals becoming engaged stewards of their community.

It starts with volunteers who are locally concerned and locally active. Their efforts combine to become part of KAB’s more significant national movement. The next step in creating a positive community is awareness about the issues and engaging the community’s citizens to help make change happen. We also have to involve partners like organizations, businesses, local governments, churches, and schools.  Then we can join together and work on changes for the community.   Volunteers are a powerful group.  Their enthusiasm is also contagious, which means their numbers grow! The other element needed for a positive community is measuring results and providing positive feedback.

To us, the first step with any community is addressing the litter problem. Litter is defined as misplaced solid waste. 

Litter costs the U.S. almost $11.5 billion annually; businesses pay $9.1 billion of that total.

About 85% of littering is the result of individual attitudes. The individual (e.g., individual “behavior”) is the most critical factor in whether littering will occur. If they think littering is wrong, they won’t do it. If they feel social pressure to not litter, they won’t do it.

Nearly one in five, or 17%, of individuals, observed disposing of waste did so improperly (i.e., littered). Moreover, 81% of the littering occurred with notable intent. 

That means that it was not an accident. They did it on purpose.

Consider these findings on the roadway and non-roadway litter from a 2009 series of research for KAB:

Roadway Litter: There are over 51 billion pieces of litter on U.S. roadways, 4.6 billion of which are larger than four inches.  Research shows that littering along roads is generated by individual actions: 

Motorists (52%)

Pedestrians (22.8%)

Improperly covered truck or cargo loads, including collection vehicles (16.4%)

Improperly secured containers, dumpsters, trash cans, or residential waste or recycling bins (1.5%)  

Non-Roadway Litter: Off the roads and highways, litter originates from many sources but primarily collects at the following  locations—starting from where most non-roadway debris occurs to least:

Transition points – These are entrances to businesses, transportation centers, and other places where items must be discarded before entering. Confection (candy, chocolate, gum, etc.) ranks at the top (53.7%) of what is littered at transition points, followed by cigarette butts at 29.8%. 

Storm drains - Located primarily in gutters and designed to drain excess rain from paved streets, parking lots, etc. These storm drains tend to attract cigarette butts, confection, and other litter.

Loading docks - Areas behind retail and wholesale business where products are loaded/unloaded from trucks and trailers can become littered with cigarette butts, confection, and paper.

Recreational Areas - Parks, beaches, courts, and open areas where people congregate for leisure activities create littering opportunities.

Construction sites - Active residential or commercial construction are a trap for cigarette butts, paper, and plastic.

Retail – High-traffic locations such as shopping centers, strip malls, and convenience stores can generate litter, such as packaging, cigarette butts, and confection on the ground.

By addressing the physical aspects of our community, such as neighborhoods, playgrounds, business areas, landfills and recycling facilities, medians, plazas, streets and highways, and our natural spaces (public lands, waterways and shorelines, trails, greenways, and state parks), we can positively affect the built environment and create a community that is positive, vibrant, and that we are proud of.  If you are not volunteering yet with Keep Liberty Beautiful, we still have room for you.  Join us every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month at the KLB office for volunteer opportunities from 10:00am to 1:00pm.  You can sign up from our Facebook page or on  For more information, contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at (912) 880-4888,, or

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