Celebrate Earth Month with Keep Durham Beautiful!

Earth Day is fast-approaching. Do you know how you’re celebrating? Consider joining Keep Durham Beautiful for one or more of our events this month!

April 22, 8am-2pm: Gather up your unwanted household goods for Durham’s first annual ReUse Rodeo! On Saturday, April 22nd, we will be accepting gently used books, clothing, furniture, working electronics, household appliances, cookware, tools, craft supplies, and more, to be donated to area non-profits and distributed back into the community. A complete list can be found on the event page. Paper shredding and e-recycling will also be available. Clear up your household clutter, help the earth, and give your gently used items a new life! The event will be held in the parking lot of The Shoppes at Lakewood at 2050 Chapel Hill Road. Want to help out at the inaugural Reuse Rodeo? Sign up to volunteer!

April 23, 12pm-5pm: Join us for Durham’s Earth Day Festival on Sunday, April 23rd! Participants will enjoy green activities and demos, learn about sustainable practices and products at the Sustainability Expo and Earth Day Market, enjoy great music and food, and much more! The festival will take place at Durham Central Park at 501 Foster Street. To learn more, visit the event page. Interested in helping out? We are looking for waste warriors to help with recycling and composting at the event. Sign up to volunteer today!

April 27, 8am-2pm: The Community Appearance and Litter Index is a quantitative assessment used across the nation to gauge roadside litter levels. Volunteers from the community receive training and then drive set routes in Durham to conduct a visual inspection of litter levels and help identify future clean-up sites. Sign up with your friends and help us make Durham a cleaner community! Breakfast and lunch are available for all volunteers. More information is available on the event page.

April 29, 9am-1pm: We are bringing I Love Durham Limpio back! We are teaming up with Durham community partners to do an extensive litter cleanup with ALL members of the community. The purpose of this volunteer opportunity is for Durham community members to join forces by giving back to their community while learning about the environment and the resources Durham offers. We’d love for you to join us on April 29th from 9am-1pm! Don’t forget to bring your old shower heads to be traded in for NEW water efficient ones. Please visit the I Love Durham Limpio event page to view more information.

Durham Recycles Over 19,000 lbs. of Tires to Help Prevent Zika Virus

 

Durham Tire Recycling Drive July 2016

Durham Residents dropped of unwanted tires at the Durham Tire Recycling Drive that took place at the City of Durham’s Waste Disposal and Recycling Center n July. Residents who missed the event are invited to drop off up to five used tires at no charge.

Residents May Still Drop Off Up to Five Used Tires At No Charge

DURHAM, N.C. – Thanks to Durham residents there are now 975 fewer places for mosquitoes and the diseases they carry to flourish with the recycling of thousands of pounds of old tires earlier this month.

As part of the Durham Tire Recycling Drive held on July 9, residents dropped off 975 unwanted tires from their yards, diverting approximately 19,455 pounds of material from the community’s waste stream and decreasing the number of potential mosquito breeding locations in Durham.

Durham residents who missed the Tire Recycling Drive can still drop off up to five used tires (off the rim only) at no charge at the City of Durham’s Waste Disposal and Recycling Center, located at 2115 E. Club Blvd., during the center’s normal operating hours.

Durham Tire Recycling Drive July 2016

As part of the Durham Tire Recycling Drive held on July 9, residents dropped off 975 unwanted tires from their yards, diverting approximately 19,455 pounds of material from the community’s waste stream and decreasing the number of potential mosquito breeding locations in Durham

While there are still no locally acquired mosquito-borne Zika cases, there have been at least 25 known travel-associated cases in North Carolina according to the Durham County Department of Public Health. Limiting exposure to mosquitoes by reducing breeding sites, like old tires, is an extremely important part of Durham’s effort to limit the spread of Zika virus. Old tires and other items that hold standing water, including bird baths, containers and gutters, encourage mosquito breeding and the diseases they may carry. With increased attention and concern about the effects of Zika Virus, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the department are encouraging people to decrease mosquitoes around the home through removing sources of standing water.

According to Keep Durham Beautiful Sustainability Specialist Erin Victor, the tires collected earlier this month will be put to good use since old tires can be recycled into a number of different products, including rubber mulch for playgrounds and landscaping as well as rubberized asphalt concrete (RAC). “RAC is considered a cost effective, durable, and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional asphalt used to pave roads. So, not only did these residents get rid of mosquito-breeding locations in their yards, they were also able to repurpose their used tires, which is wonderful for our environment,” Victor said.

The July 9 Tire Recycling Drive, a City-County Collaborative effort, was a partnership between Keep Durham Beautiful, City of Durham Solid Waste Management Department, City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services, City of Durham General Services Department, Durham County General Services Department, and the Durham County Department of Public Health.

About Keep Durham Beautiful
Keep Durham Beautiful is a nonprofit, volunteer organization working in partnership with the City of Durham General Services Department and Durham County to encourage residents, businesses, and community organizations to protect the environment and enhance the appearance of Durham through cleanup events, beautification projects, waste reduction, and educational activities. To learn more, visit the website, like on Facebook, and follow on Instagram, flickr, and Twitter.

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Durham Community Unites to Bring Play to Children at Crest Street Park

Tucked away in the shadows of the Duke Medicine North Pavilion is Crest Street Park, a multipurpose recreation area featuring a baseball diamond, a basketball court, a playground and a shelter. Adjacent to the 139 year old New Bethel Baptist Church, the park has long served as a local place for children to play freely among the slides, swings and sand. However, as the community has a long history, so too does the park. With the passing of time, the facilities have run down and need an upgrade. Understanding the importance of play and safety in this modern age, local organizations including Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Durham Parks and Recreation, Keep Durham Beautiful and the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership have teamed up with national organization KaBOOM! to renovate the historic park and provide all new equipment to facilitate play for all children.

KaBOOM! Design Day

Children showing off their dream playground design ideas during the Crest Street Park Design Day on June 21, 2016. The community input was used to design the perfect new playground, which will be built on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 with the help of over 200 volunteers.

On June 21st, the first steps of this project were taken on what was deemed “Design Day”. Local organization representatives met with members of the community in a joint effort to help design the new playground spearheaded by the KaBOOM! project manager Imani Jackson. The event began with local children illustrating what they think of as their “dream playground”.

One of the kids in attendance was Jose Gonzalez Jr. Jose, a twelve year old who enjoys playing soccer, riding merry-go-rounds and swinging. “I like playing sports such as soccer and basketball,” Jose said, “but not everyone enjoys those things and our playground should be good for them too.” His intricate plan for a dream playground includes slides, swings and a soccer field, but also a “music area” for kids to create music using drums and cymbals. Jose was one of many kids at the event who drew creative designs for the playground to help shape an idea of what the children wanted in their new playground.

KaBOOM! Design Day

Imani Jackson, KaBOOM! project manager, works with children as they draw their dream playgrounds at the Crest Street Playground Design Day in June.

“The input of local children is crucial to our design process,” said project manager Imani Jackson. Ms. Jackson ran the event with high energy and a willingness to hear from all members of the group. After the kids presented their ideas, the adults discussed logistics and began planning for the playground build. Jackson gave a presentation that outlined how the park will be completely renovated with the help of 250 volunteers in just 6 hours. Committees, such as food planning, outreach and children’s activities, recruitment, construction, logistics, and public relations were formed to coordinate each aspect of the build. The committees are a mixture of individuals from local community members to representatives of sponsoring organizations.

Help Build a Playground at Crest Street Park

Over 100 volunteers are needed to help build a playground and bring joy to children of all ages.

August 22-24, 2016

Crest Street Park (2503 Crest Street, Durham, NC 27705)

To learn more and register as a volunteer, visit the event website: http://bit.ly/29DfpD4 or contact Monica at Email: monica@keepdurhambeautiful.org Phone (919) 560-4197 ext. 21269

As the various committees finalize their preparations, Crest Street Park now calls upon local individuals to volunteer for the building of the new playground. Come help construct a playground that will help bring play to families here in Durham. The build day is set for August 24th, rain or shine, and food will be provided to all who assist. For more information including the location of the park, please visit the Keep Durham Beautiful event page:http://bit.ly/29DfpD4 Mark your calendars for what is sure to be an exciting and memorable event at Crest Street Park!

Josh Perry is a journalism intern with Keep Durham Beautiful. Keep Durham Beautiful is a nonprofit, volunteer organization working in partnership with the City of Durham General Services Department and Durham County to encourage residents, businesses, and community organizations to protect the environment and enhance the appearance of Durham through cleanup events, beautification projects, waste reduction, and educational activities. To learn more, visit the website: www.keepdurhambeautiful.org, like the page on Facebook, and follow on Instagram, flickr, and Twitter.

 

Join the Keep Durham Beautiful “Clean Your Block Party” in June

2016 “Clean Your Block Party,” Engages Volunteers to Take Action to Clean-up and Beautify Durham

June 12, 2016 – Keep Durham Beautiful invites residents to join with their neighbors as part of the nation’s largest annual Keep America Beautiful cleanup program, the “Clean Your Block Party,” to beautify Durham communities on June 18, 2016. Groups selecting other dates in June may also participate in the program.

Our goal is to end littering, improve recycling and beautify Durham, one block at a time. Whether a weedy corner, broken sign, littered street, or a garden bed needing attention, the “Clean Your Block Party” is an opportunity for neighbors, friends, and family to band together to create a positive, lasting impact, and to celebrate their accomplishments.

Registered “Clean Your Block Party” communities will be able to pick up available cleanup supplies from Keep Durham Beautiful on the afternoon of Thursday June 16, 2016 or by appointment. Supplies include litter grabbers, safety vests, trash bags, gloves, gardening tools, volunteer waivers, and a variety of prizes and goodies to show appreciation to our volunteers.

This initiative provides the best practices, activity ideas, and online toolkits for community cleanup organizers to learn about relevant Durham City and County ordinances and what they can do to address common maintenance issues in public spaces. Best practice tips are available for mosquito prevention, bird bath and rain barrel maintenance, standing water, tire disposal, recycling, paper shredding, bulky waste, the impact of cleanups to reduce pests, enforcement for unsightly areas, debris in the stormwater, and dog waste disposal.

Keep Durham Beautiful, along with other organizations in Keep America Beautiful’s national network of community-based affiliates, plan volunteer events and education programs that help to remove litter and renew parks and trails, clean waterways, reduce waste and improve recycling, and plant trees, flowers and community gardens.

In 2015, Keep Durham Beautiful volunteers:
• Participated in 120 events that engaged 3,230 individuals
• Contributed 7,693 volunteer hours valued at $23.07/hour
• Donated $177,478 worth of their time to make Durham more clean, green and beautiful
• Planted over 1,150 trees and distributed 800 tree seedlings to strengthen green infrastructure
• Collected and diverted 11,992 lbs recyclables and compostables from the landfill
• Removed 18,695 lbs litter from Durham parks, streams, bus stops and roads to create safer, cleaner communities

As part of this year’s community cleanup effort, we encourage residents to properly dispose of old tires and other items that may hold standing water to prevent mosquito breeding and the diseases they may carry. A special tire collection event is planned for July 9, 2016 at the City of Durham Solid Waste Transfer Station.

Keep Durham Beautiful seeks to educate and encourage volunteers to build a sense of community pride and environmental stewardship, offering experiences that help change behaviors to improve community appearance, block by block.

To get involved and register for “Clean Your Block Party,” please visit the website at: http://keepdurhambeautiful.org/our-events/cleanyourblockparty/ or contact us at: volunteer@keepdurhambeautiful.org or 919-560-4197 ext. 21244

About Keep Durham Beautiful
Keep Durham Beautiful is a nonprofit, volunteer organization working in partnership with the City of Durham General Services Department and Durham County to encourage residents, businesses, and community organizations to protect the environment and enhance the appearance of Durham through cleanup events, beautification projects, waste reduction, and educational activities. To learn more, visit the website, like on Facebook, and follow on Instagram, flickr, and Twitter.

About Keep America Beautiful
At Keep America Beautiful, we want to ensure that beauty is our lasting signature. A leading national nonprofit, Keep America Beautiful inspires and educates people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. We envision a country where every community is a clean, green, and beautiful place to live. Established in 1953, Keep America Beautiful provides the expertise, programs and resources to help people end littering, improve recycling in America, and beautify America’s communities. The organization is driven by the work and passion of more than 600 community-based Keep America Beautiful affiliates, millions of volunteers, and the support of corporate partners, municipalities, elected officials, and individuals. To learn how you can donate or take action, visit kab.org.

Keep Durham Beautiful 2016 Bulb Blitz Giveaway

Share! Win free flower bulbs! #BulbBlitz2016 #giveaway @durhambeautiful http://bit.ly/21g8jtH

Keep Durham Beautiful 2016 Bulb Blitz Giveaway

Durham-based community groups are invited to register for the chance to win free flower bulbs

Durham, NC – (February 24, 2016) – Durham-based community groups are invited to join the Keep Durham Beautiful 2016 Bulb Blitz Giveaway. Five community groups will win 100 bulbs each to help keep our community clean, green, and beautiful.

Our goal at Keep Durham Beautiful is to create more vibrant and beautiful spaces, where our residents are engaged to improve their community environment.

Flower bulb planting, a signature Keep Durham Beautiful volunteer effort, is one of the many paths to achieve community greening and beautification.

The giveaway will feature a mix of summer blooming bulbs (Cannas, Daylilies, and Asiatic Lilies) that should be planted by volunteer groups in the spring for optimum performance. All of these bulbs are perennials, which means they’ll come up again each year, beautifying Durham for years.

We believe that programs like the Bulb Blitz help to inspire further beautification and develop practices that will prevent litter, reduce waste and increase recycling, and beautify the community.

Participation Rules for the 2016 Bulb Blitz:

  • Deadline for submission is Monday, March 14, 2016 at 5 p.m. EST
  • Registration is open to any Durham-based group. Groups may be: neighborhood, civic, faith-based, non-profit, service, scouts, schools or any other community group
  • Bulbs must be planted by volunteers
  • Bulbs must be planted where visible from public streets or public spaces anyplace within Durham County
  • Winners must plan to pick up bulbs from Keep Durham Beautiful at 2011 Fay Street during business hours within two weeks of notification of bulb delivery
  • Bulbs are expected to arrive between mid-March and mid-June 2016 
  • Bulbs should be kept cool and dry (not freezing, not in the refrigerator, not in warm house) such as a basement or protected garage until planted
  • For optimal performance, bulbs should be planted by groups as soon as they are received
  • Winning groups must submit pictures of (1) volunteers planting the bulbs and (2) of the bulbs blooming 

Register at: http://keepdurhambeautiful.org/our-events/bulb-blitz/

About Keep Durham Beautiful
Keep Durham Beautiful is a nonprofit, volunteer organization working in partnership with the City of Durham General Services Department and Durham County to encourage residents, businesses, and community organizations to protect the environment and enhance the appearance of Durham through cleanup events, beautification projects, waste reduction, and educational activities. To learn more, visit the website, like on Facebook, and follow on Instagram, flickr, and Twitter.

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Durham to Celebrate Arbor Day March 6

Public Invited to Plant Trees After Ceremony

What: City of Durham 2016 Arbor Day Celebration with Community Tree Planting 

Who: City of Durham General Services Department Urban Forestry Division, Keep Durham BeautifulTrees Across Durham, and Durham City-County Sustainability Office

When: Sunday, March 6, 2016, from noon to 4 p.m.

Where: Museum of Life and Science (433 W. Murray Ave. Durham, N.C. 27704)

Fast Facts:

This annual celebration of Durham’s trees is free and open to the public. Activities are suitable for all ages and tools are provided for the volunteer tree planting. The schedule of activities includes:

o   Noon: Ceremonial presentation of the City’s Arbor Day proclamation and Tree City USA award

o   1 p.m.: Tree seedling giveaway and educational table displays, where attendees can choose from eight varieties of seedlings and receive guidance on tree selection, planting, and care.

o   1 p.m.: Arborist equipment demonstration as well as a “Meet a Scientist” lab demonstration.

o   2:30 p.m.: Community volunteer tree planting of 30 trees along North Glendale Avenue

Entry to the Museum of Life and Science is free to all Durham County residents on Sunday, March 6.  Showing proof of residence for each adult is required to receive free admission, and the limit is five children per adult resident. For additional information, or to volunteer for this community tree planting event, sign up online or email info@keepdurhambeautiful.org or call (919) 354-2729.

About the General Services Department

The City of Durham General Services Department creates, manages and maintains City properties to provide best value to the Durham community. The core business functions include: Administration/Business Services, Facilities Operations, Landscape Services, Urban Forestry, Real Estate, Project Management, Cemeteries, and Keep Durham Beautiful. As guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, General Services serves as a steward of the City’s physical and environmental assets. Through annual and long-range facility planning activities, the department plans, provides, and maintains the City’s facilities infrastructure, which supports the community’s quality of life and serves as a foundation of a healthy economy. 

About Keep Durham Beautiful

Keep Durham Beautiful is a nonprofit, volunteer organization working in partnership with the City of Durham General Services Department and Durham County to encourage residents, businesses, and community organizations to protect the environment and enhance the appearance of Durham through cleanup events, beautification projects, waste reduction, and educational activities. To learn more, visit the website, like on Facebook, and follow on Twitter and Instagram.

About Trees Across Durham

Trees Across Durham is a broad-based partnership dedicated to making Durham a healthier and greener community now and in the future through the planting and protection of trees; the education of tree caretakers and the general public about how to maintain healthy trees; and the measurement and communication of the benefits trees provide to the environment and community.

About the Durham City-County Sustainability Office

The mission of the Durham City/County Sustainability Office is to help protect and improve Durham’s environment through wise use of natural resources by providing guidance and resources to City and County employees, businesses, and residents. For more information, like on Facebook and follow on Twitter and Instagram.

Durham Hosts Tree Care 101 Workshop

What: Tree Care 101 Workshop

Who: Trees Across Durham

When: Saturday, January 23, 2016, from 9:30 a.m. to noon

Where: Northgate Park 300 W. Club Blvd. Durham, N.C. 27704

Fast Facts

  •  Trees Across Durham is hosting a free tree care workshop to provide volunteers with handson experience while planting and tending to the trees along the Ellerbe Creek Stream Restoration Project, which runs through Northgate Park.
  •  Participants will learn about tree planting, pruning, and other tree care topics. They will also discover the critical role played by trees and forests for stream health and water quality. Tools and gloves for the workshop will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring their own if possible. Participants should also dress appropriately for the weather and bring water to drink.
  •  Workshop partners include Keep Durham Beautiful, City of Durham General Services Department Urban Forestry Division, Durham City-County Sustainability Office, City of Durham Public Works Department Stormwater & GIS Services Division, and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Division of Mitigation Services.
  •  For additional information or to register for this workshop, visit the Registration Web page or call (919) 560-7993.
  • Additional tree planting volunteer events are being held throughout January and February 2016. Information on all upcoming events is available on Greener Durham’s website.
  • Trees Across Durham is a broad-based partnership dedicated to making Durham a healthier and greener community now and in the future through the planting and protection of trees; the education of tree caretakers and the general public about how to maintain healthy trees; and the measurement and communication of the benefits trees provide to the environment and community.

Share! Register now for free #Durham Tree Care 101 Workshop on Jan. 23 http://tinyurl.com/TADevent

Growing Durham’s Future: Eastway Elementary Orchard Project

Angier Avenue Neighborhood Workday CrossFit Group

Volunteers from CrossFit Durham and Bull City Crossfit lend their strength and perseverance at the Keep Durham Beautiful gardening workday at Angier Avenue Neighborhood Farm on Saturday, August 29. These CrossFit volunteers worked alongside community members clearing and mulching the blueberry patch and preparing a perennial bed at this unique ½ acre urban farm located in NE Central Durham. Angier Avenue Neighborhood Farm, the Eastway Elementary Orchard, and a new community garden space on Taylor Street coming this Fall, are all efforts to increase access to local, fresh food in this area of Durham.

With school back in full swing, parents across the city are busy packing lunches. The newest “hot item” for your child’s lunchbox: the paw paw. Haven’t heard of a paw paw? This native fruit looks like a green mango and tastes like a cross between a mango, cantaloupe, and banana.

You are unlikely to find paw paws in the produce aisle of your favorite grocery store. But luckily for all the parents packing lunches in the Bull City, if you keep a close eye out, you can find paw paw trees scattered throughout Durham. Come September, Northeast Central Durham will welcome Paw Paws, along with other native fruit trees, to the Eastway Elementary Orchard.

Eastway Elementary School, home of the Eastway Eagles, is committed to “Growing Durham’s Future.” This elementary school is working hard to grow Durham’s future, both literarily and figuratively, and will be planting an orchard with Keep Durham Beautiful as part of the Green Apple Day of Service on September 26, 2015.

The Green Apple Day of Service, through the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGCB), is an opportunity to transform schools into healthy, safe, and productive learning environments through local service projects. This year, Keep Durham Beautiful, the USGCB NC, and Building Managers and Managers Association (BOMA) Raleigh-Durham have partnered together to plant an orchard at the entranceway of Eastway Elementary School.

The project will convert the grassy area in front of the school into an orchard with native fruit trees and fruiting shrubs, perennial flowers, benches, and educational signs. The Eastway Orchard project provides opportunities for beautification, education, health, and community building in Northeast Central Durham, which is a target area for the Mayor’s Poverty Reduction Initiative. This area is characterized as a “food desert,” meaning there is a lack of access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Planting an orchard on the school grounds will provide the Eastway community increased food access, a dynamic outdoor learning environment, and a chance for children to connect to where food comes from.

Education & Advocacy Manager Sarah Montgomery at USGBC NC looks forward to a large group of volunteers from the school and surrounding community to participate in planting the edible school orchard for the students and families at Eastway. “There is nothing more exciting to me than to see students, teachers, administrators, and parents come together with their community members and work collaboratively on a project to improve their local school. Eastway Elementary’s Orchard project is an opportunity to showcase the community-based, community-driven, transformative work happening all across Durham,” Montgomery said.

To learn more about Green Schools at USGBC NC, visit the website: http://www.usgbcnc.org/


**Update 10/2**

Due to the weather, the Green Apple Day of Service Orchard Planting Workday has been rescheduled for Monday, October 12, 2015. Please check back or email for the latest information. 

Green Apple Day of Service | Monday, October 12, 2015

Eastway Elementary School, 610 N. Alston Ave., Durham, N.C. 27701

12-4pm (tentative time, please email for updates)

Join us as we plant a small orchard at the entrance of Eastway Elementary! For more information and to register, email erin@keepdurhambeautiful.org.


 

The Litter Index is Step One

We are excited to introduce our guest blogger, Veronica Kim. Veronica is an upcoming senior at Durham Academy who will be writing about her experiences as a volunteer with Keep Durham Beautiful throughout the summer. 

Litter Index 2015

Keep Durham Beautiful volunteers helped assess roadside litter levels and community appearance measures for the 11th annual Durham Litter Index on June 11, 2015.

It’s surprising, really, the amount of trash that you can see on the side of the road, if only you’re looking carefully enough.

And the participants of the 11th annual Keep Durham Beautiful Litter Index were certainly looking very carefully. On June 11, over twenty volunteers set off for five different corners of Durham, armed with clipboards and charts and the occasional bagel. I was skeptical. I had just learned the litter assessment scale (ranging from one to four, with one meaning “no litter” and four meaning “extremely littered”) and was more than a little nervous that my litter assessment abilities would not be up to par.

Not to worry. The Litter Index volunteers are experienced, passionate members of the community, coming out each year to sweep the Durham streets in their trusty white vans (donated for our use by University Ford). It is a demanding job, with seventy-five zones that need to be inspected. Yet even at 8:30 in the morning, they are ready to go, coffee in hand and pencil at the ready.

In my van, there are shouts of “I just saw five junked cars on the side of the road!” and “Please drive slower, I need to make sure I catch every piece of litter that I can.” I am awed by the amounts of waste that dot the sides of the roads and the treeline – I’ve never noticed it before.

In a state where we throw away nearly twelve billion tons of trash every year, the Litter Index needs to spot every aluminum can, every paper cup, every hamburger wrapper. At first glance, it does not seem like a grueling job. I told my friends, We drove around and assessed the trash on the sides of the roads, and they said, Wait, you didn’t even clean it up? You just looked at it? But without the Litter Index, there would be no litter cleanup. It clears the way for more organized cleanup opportunities, and focuses this effort in areas that have been rated higher on the scale. The places that receive a score of one will not require much organized effort. On the other hand, “four” areas can require a large-scale effort and even machine equipment to remove litter, which takes a lot of advance planning to achieve.

This is how the Litter Index helps. It is not just a bunch of people with nothing better to do on a Thursday, driving around and pointing out all of the straw wrappers that they see in the grass. It opens the doors to a much larger process. It is a program run by Keep Durham Beautiful, and it provides the first step to doing just that.

Here is a statistic I read the other day: North Carolinians throw away enough trash every year to circle the planet twice. That is more than fifty thousand miles worth of waste.

It makes you think. On a grass-lined road, I marked down my first “one” of the day. In this zone, I saw a single Styrofoam cup, and I wished I could reach out and pluck it from the ground. The sun blinked and yawned, not yet fully awake.

This world, and our small corner of it, will continue to spin, regardless of how many popsicle sticks we throw out our car windows. But we will not always be able to recognize the beauty of a summer morning, when the birds usher in the dawn, when the sky seems to melt into puddles on your shoulders. Unless we realize – this Earth, this planet, this is our little miracle. We would do well to protect it.  


We would like to thank University Ford for their generous donation of the vans used for the Litter Index and Republic Services for providing lunch for Keep Durham Beautiful volunteers. 

Want to learn more about the Litter Index? Find more information and volunteer registration for the 2016 Keep Durham Beautiful Litter and Community Appearance Index here

To see more pictures from the 2015 Litter Index, please visit our Flickr page.

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Rising litter Levels Threaten Durham’s Progress

Litter Index

Keep Durham Beautiful volunteers Butch Fisher, Rhonda Spivey, Michael Crutchfield, Rhonda Crutchfield and David Harris prepare to conduct the 2013 Community Appearance and Litter Index in a van provided by University Ford.

You may not have noticed, but Durham has a fair amount of litter. Our streets, schools, parks, and neighborhoods are filled with trash from cigarette butts to bottles, cans, plastic bags, and even items like car tires and shoes.

“First impressions are the lasting impressions,” said David Harris, a former Keep Durham Beautiful Board Member and long-time volunteer with the Durham Community Litter Index. “The appearance of the gateways into our city is what visitors see and develop first opinions about Durham.”
As Durhamites, we have a lot of pride. There is exciting energy here in the Bull City. Durham is teeming with talented local artists, authors, and the city is a nationally recognized foodie destination. But the phrase, “Keep it Dirty, Durham,” is not intended to be taken literally.
Litter hurts. Litter costs approximately $15 million in taxpayer dollars to clean up each year. Litter reduces tourism, hampers economic development, and encourages vandalism and crime. Litter contaminates our drinking water and is detrimental for plants and wildlife. Litter even causes accidents, with thousands of automobile accidents each year in the U.S. classified as litter-related.

So, what do we do about it?
On June 11th, Keep Durham Beautiful will be spearheading the 11th annual Litter Index and is looking for community members to get involved. Keep Durham Beautiful is a non-profit affiliate of Keep America Beautiful that works in collaboration with the City of Durham and Durham County to engage and inspire individuals to take greater responsibility for their community environment. Keep Durham Beautiful, with the help of dedicated volunteers, has collected data annually on litter levels in the city since 2005.

What is the Litter Index?
Developed by Keep America Beautiful, the Litter Index is a quantitative measure used across the nation to gauge roadside litter levels. Routes throughout the city are scored on a scale from one to four, with a score of one indicating “no litter” and a score of four indicating the area is “extremely littered.” The index is used to determine the effectiveness of litter campaigns and identify litter “hot spots” in the community for future clean ups.
Teams of volunteers receive training before driving along pre-determined routes to monitor the amount of litter along the roads. “Each route includes business/commercial districts and residential communities and consists of urban, suburban, rural and county roads,” said David Harris, who has participated in the Litter Index for the past 10 years, taking on various roles as an evaluator, driver, coordinator, trainer, co-chair, and chair.

Results from the 2014 index indicate that roadside litter has increased in Durham. The average score across all the routes in 2014 was 1.804, up from a score of 1.35 in 2013. These results suggest the need to take action now. Litter is an individual behavior and each of us can do our part to make a difference. From joining a neighborhood cleanup, adopting a street or bus stop, or by modeling good behavior in your home, school, work or neighborhood YOU have the ability to reduce litter and increase litter literacy in this city we love.

If you are interested in joining this year’s Litter Index efforts, please contact info@keepdurhambeautiful.org or register here. The Litter Index will take place on Thursday, June 11th from 8:30 am – 1 pm at the Forest Hills Neighborhood Clubhouse. Coffee, bagels, and gratitude will be provided for all volunteers.