Looking Ahead: A Cleaner, Greener, And More Beautiful Community

By: Lynne Hart

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Keep America Beautiful National Conference in Washington DC.  It was so nice to be able to meet in person, reconnect with and meet other affiliate directors, and share ideas and programs from different communities across the country. We were also given the opportunity to meet with senators and congressmen from our own states and share with them who we are and what we do on national, state, and local levels.

Attending these types of conferences is always refreshing to me, and allows me to refocus on the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish here at Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful. KALB’s mission is to empower citizens of Athens and Limestone County to take greater responsibility for enhancing their community environment. What does that mean and why is that important? What is our “why”?

Let me start by saying that what we are trying to accomplish has to be carried out by our community. This is not a one-man job. Each of us has a role to play in keeping Athens and Limestone County a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful place.

Part of KALB’s role is through education. We try to teach others, from as early as three years old and up, that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of what we have been entrusted with, which includes the world around us. But how do we as a community do this and why should we care? Let’s look at our three goals of clean, green, and beautiful to find out.

Every citizen deserves to live, work, and play in a clean and green environment. We have had, and hopefully will continue to have, countless numbers of volunteers over the years to assist KALB with litter cleanups both in the city and the county. This helps to build community and gives citizens an opportunity to be part of the solution. But if we fail to teach those around us not to litter in the first place, and how littering is harmful to the world around us, the problem of litter will never be solved. Our ultimate goal is a litter-free community in all types of neighborhoods. I understand that it is a lofty goal, but through education and proper enforcement, one day we may see this happen.

The word “green” can be intimidating on some levels but it shouldn’t be! Green spaces are always a welcome sight in every community creating safer and more vibrant communities as well as promoting good health and cleaner air, thanks to plants and trees. One way that we have been able to help as an organization is through tree giveaways. These trees are donated and used to replace those lost during natural disasters, such as tornados.

Another way that we think of “green” is through recycling (and reducing and reusing). The Athens-Limestone Recycling Center is a busy and important part of our organization, and a jewel for this community. They take many items for recycling that other centers do not take such as glass, plastic bags and film, electronics, and more! (Go to KALBcares.com for more information.) By each of us doing our part by recycling plastic bottles, cardboard, paper, etc., we are keeping these items off our roadways, out of our waterways, and out of the landfill. By recycling these valuable commodities, we are saving natural resources as well, helping to ensure that there will be enough for the generations to come. This is a huge responsibility and each one of us has an important role to play.

When we think of a beautiful community, we may envision tree-lined streets with beautiful flowers and potted plants. These are the types of things that our Beautification Board focuses on. Whether it be planting the pots around the square, beautifying triangles at roadways, or keeping the cemetery entrances looking beautiful, our board members are focused on doing their part in making our community a beautiful place to live. Volunteers are welcome to help with these efforts!

We, as citizens, have important roles to play in each of these categories, and I challenge each of you to choose to do your part. No role is too small or unimportant. We all have to work together to make these goals happen. As you can see, our “why” is for all of us, in making our city and county a clean, green, and beautiful place to live, work, and play!

By: Lynne Hart

Former Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful