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Summer is finally here! Hopefully, everyone enjoyed the fireworks and family time over the Fourth. As beautiful as the Fourth of July is it is actually one of the worst days for littering in America.

National Retail Federation data reveals that more than 66 percent of Americans spend the holiday outdoors; many activities are along the shorelines of rivers and lakes. With more than $6 billion spent on food and over $1 billion spent on beer, and with the average American generating 4.4 pounds of waste daily, the amount of litter improperly disposed of during out-of-doors celebrations is a significant problem. Those are some fairly significant numbers.

Lake McConaughy in Nebraska saw hundreds of thousands of people. With large amounts of people there to celebrate they produce large amounts of litter. Keep America Beautiful recently partnered with Fishbrain to conduct the second study of litter in waterways on the Fourth of July. Last year, they had over 32,800 people participate in 575 different fishing locations. If you would like to read the whole article here it is; https://www.kab.org/news-info/press-releases/5-million-anglers-called-collect-data-and-trash-us-waters-fourth-july

Are you wondering what Keep America Beautiful is? Well, Keep America Beautiful is the main headquarters organization that we are an affiliate of. We have certain standards we are required to maintain in order to remain in good standing. Why is it important to be in good standing you ask? Well, for one, we want to be a successful affiliate and also to apply for grants that they have available for affiliates.

Keep Columbus Beautiful has received quite a few in the past. Some are the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, The UPS Foundation/ KAB Tree Grant, and the recycling container grant from Anheuser- Busch /KAB. Other requirements to remain in good standing are completing an annual litter index. What’s that you ask? It’s about a three- to four-hour drive through all of Columbus evaluating litter. We have judges and scorecards and we have to report our number to the state and to Keep America Beautiful. It is a way of measuring our success or lack thereof. There is quite a bit of reporting required to remain in good standing also. This is when we spend the most time in the office. For more information on Keep America Beautiful, its website is https://www.kab.org/

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We are usually out and about in the community during the summer months.

Recently, we hosted an Electronics Collection event back at the end of June. There were more than 100 vehicles that came through. I do not have the exact number of pounds collected from this event but it was most definitely a successful turnout.

Also, you can mark your calendars for the next recycling event on Sept. 19-21 for scrap tires. There will be no household hazardous waste this year due to lack of funding, but we will reapply for 2020. Some of the community events we will be attending this summer are Sundaes on the Square the ( July 20) and Columbus Days (Aug. 15-18). We will have booths set up at both events so stop by and let us know if you have any questions we can help with. Both events take place in Downtown Columbus. Hope to see you soon!

Vanessa Oceguera is the executive director of Keep Columbus Beautiful. Her column is published in The Columbus Telegram every second Friday of the month.

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