Three Million Volunteer in 'Great American Cleanup'

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Results of this year’s Great American Cleanup™ are in, and the annual Keep America Beautiful-sponsored campaign resulted in 64 million pounds of litter and debris removed from parks, trails and waterways.

The 2009 Cleanup lasted three months from March 1 to May 31, and recruited over 3 million volunteers logging 5.2 million hours. In addition to collecting trash, volunteers restored recreation areas, removed graffiti and planted 157,000 trees and 6,400 gardens.

Photo: Flickr/definity_falls

3,200 parks and community recreation areas were improved, restored or constructed in the Great American Cleanup. Photo: Flickr/definity_falls

From a recycling standpoint, the program was successful at collecting both The Big Five and products that are hazardous to the environment. Here’s a further breakdown into what was collected and recycled:

  • 243 million PETE bottles, a 30 percent increase from last year
  • 14.5 million pounds of scrap metal, up 42 percent from 2008
  • 36 million pounds of newspaper
  • 870,000 tires
  • 6.9 million pounds of electronics, another 30 percent increase

Although several products showed a higher collection rate this year, the overall volume of waste was down from the 86 million pounds collected in 2008.

The Great American Cleanup began in 1999, and this year included events in 32,000 different communities. This year’s theme was “Green Starts Here,” emphasizing that the being eco-conscious begins with the efforts of individuals. To participate in next year’s campaign, contact a local KAB affiliate.

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Trey Granger

Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.
Trey Granger