Roll up sleeves, take part in cleanup of Youngstown

Fifty-two years ago, Lady Bird Johnson, first lady of the United States, issued an urgent call to action to clean up America.

“Ours is a blessed and beautiful land. But much of it has been tarnished. What can you do? Look around you: at the littered roadside; at the polluted stream; the decayed city center. We need urgently to restore the beauty of our land,” she urged citizens as she partnered with the Keep America Beautiful organization in making litter cleanup a cause celebre of the Lyndon Baines Johnson administration.

Five decades later, great strides have been made as noteworthy changes in behavior have resulted in a 61 percent overall reduction in the amount of litter denigrating our landscapes, according to KAB.

Unfortunately, however, the problem persists, and Mrs. Johnson’s 1966 civic-minded appeal continues to ring true today. In 2017 alone, for example, nearly 186 million pounds of litter and debris were collected by volunteers throughout the country.

And Youngstown is no oasis from the sea of sandwich wrappers, cigarette butts, beer bottles, soda cans, spoiled food and other irresponsibly discarded solid wastes that continue to despoil our environment.

Fortunately, however, a dedicated cadre of volunteers and committed leaders of groups such as Green Youngstown and the Mahoning County Green Team refuse to accept defeat in the ongoing war on litter.

Their upcoming multipronged citywide offensive against community debris Saturday therefore should command the attention and participation of Valley residents.

Great America Cleanup

Green Youngstown is sponsoring The Great American Cleanup of Youngstown all day tomorrow. The local campaign is part of the broader Great American Cleanup nationwide this spring sponsored by KAB.

That campaign typically yields more than 5 million volunteers and participants whose work returns, on average, more than $175 million in measurable benefits across more than 20,000 communities.

“The goal of the cleanup is to clean all the litter and loose trash,” said Jen Jones, coordinator of Green Youngstown, which administers litter prevention and recycling programs in the city.

Supplies for the citywide cleanup will be passed out from 8 a.m. to noon at the Covelli Center box office downtown. Volunteers can work anytime and in any part of the city. Registration is not necessary, but is appreciated by emailing or by calling 330-744-7526.

As Jones and anyone else in anti-litter and anti-blight campaigns will tell you, volunteer cleanup drives produce myriad aesthetic, public-health, environmental and economic-development benefits.

According to research by Keep America Beautiful, lazy litterers inflict much more damage than merely creating public eyesores. For example:

Litter cleanup costs in the United States total more than $11.5 billion each year.

Thirty-six percent of business development officials say that litter impacts a company’s decision to locate in a community.

Saturday’s citywide cleanup also complements other community improvement initiatives. Environmentally conscious residents can gather supplies for the cleanup while also taking part in a tire-recycling drive at Covelli on Saturday. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents can drop off up to 10 car tires for free recycling. (Small fees apply to semi tires or farm-vehicle tires).

Also on Saturday morning from 9 to noon, applicance and electronics recycling will take place at Euclid and Spring streets in Struthers. In Poland, the Green Team will shred up to five banker-sized boxes of papers (even those with paper clips) at Shepherd of the Valley on Western Reserve Road that morning.

In addition, the Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown is sponsoring its own community cleanup drive of its own that day.

With so many opportunities and so much potential, we’re counting on an army of hundreds of people to clear out thousands of pounds of unsightly debris come Saturday. In so doing, we can do our part to keep our little part of America beautiful.

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