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.
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.
The Community Appearance and Litter Index was developed by Keep America Beautiful as a quantitative measure used across the nation to gauge roadside litter levels. Keep Durham Beautiful, with the help of a group of dedicated volunteers, have been monitoring litter in Durham since 2005. Volunteers from the community are trained in the method and then drive set routes in Durham to conduct a visual inspection of litter levels. Routes throughout the city and county 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.
Join us for Keep Durham Beautiful’s 12th annual Litter Index! Volunteers are needed to measure roadside litter levels on April 13, 2016 from 8am- 2pm at the Forest Hills Neighborhood Clubhouse (1639 University Dr., Durham, NC)
Breakfast and Lunch will be provided for all volunteers.
Register to volunteer by contacting Erin Victor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-560-4197 ext. 21244
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.