Volunteers are needed in communities across the state for the annual Great Arkansas Cleanup litter pickup campaign which will kick off statewide on Sept. 11. The Great Arkansas Cleanup is presented by the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission each fall.
"Litter is a problem in Arkansas," said Robert Phelps, executive director of Keep Arkansas Beautiful. "It is illegal to litter. It can affect our community's potential to attract business, industry and tourism. It has a devastating effect on our water supply. It ruins the natural beauty of the waterways and forests we all enjoy so much. Arkansas is The Natural State, and litter is unnatural. We need to clean it up. … It's Worth It!"
Litter pickup events are already scheduled in 37 of Arkansas' 75 counties, including Fulton County.
"Litter affects everyone," said Phelps. '"No, we may not all be litterers, but we do all live in this community together and must work together to keep it clean, healthy and beautiful. If this were a perfect world, no one would litter and those of us who volunteer for cleanup events wouldn't have to pick up other people's trash. But, unfortunately, that's not the way it is. We all have to pitch in and stop pitching out."
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is waiving the fees charged to landfill operators so more communities may be encouraged to participate in the Great Arkansas Cleanup. Jurisdictions across Arkansas are required to remit a fee to ADEQ for every ton of trash collected at their landfills. This mandated expense is passed on to the landfill user. During past Great Arkansas Cleanups, many landfill operators waived their charges for trash brought in to the landfill; however, the operators were still required to pay the fee due to the state. Now, ADEQ's action eliminates this fee for a designated period, permitting more landfill operators to open their facilities to communities conducting cleanup activities during statewide environmental improvement campaigns.
This year's cleanup is sponsored by Glad Manufacturing, Coca-Cola, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.
About the Great Arkansas Cleanup
Last year, the cleanup boasted 73 events in 57 counties where 15,000 volunteers and 68 local coordinators picked up more than 1.8 million pounds of trash; cleaned up 2,900 miles of roadway, 118 parks and public areas, and 205 miles of shoreline; and closed 25 illegal dumps. The volunteer-driven effort provided the state a cost-saving value of just over $980,000.
The Great Arkansas Cleanup began 35 years ago as the Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River Cleanup. In 1985, U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers guided legislation requiring an annual pickup event during the weekend after Labor Day on all federal lands. This law, the Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Act, honors the founder of the event. Garner continues his advocacy for a clean and litter-free environment as a member of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Foundation Board of Directors
About Keep Arkansas Beautiful
A division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, Keep Arkansas Beautiful engages individuals to accept responsibility for enhancing their local community through effective actions to reduce litter, encourage recycling and promote scenic beautification. An affiliate of Keep America Beautiful Inc., the nation's largest community environmental improvement network, Keep Arkansas Beautiful is governed by a nine-member commission appointed by the governor and funded by 1 percent of the one-eighth-cent conservation tax. For every $1 of program funding, Keep Arkansas Beautiful averages a cost benefit of $4.75 in community services, through the use of volunteers.