By Michael Givens | May 11, 2018 | 2 Minute Read
With 11 chapters across Massachusetts, from Cape Cod to Springfield, Keep Massachusetts Beautiful (KMB) has spent the last four years prioritizing recycling, litter cleanup, and beautification efforts in Bay State communities. They’re calling on all Massachusetts residents and visitors to do their part and keep the commonwealth clean.
“At the time, in 2014, there was no organization that was focused on cleaning up and preventing litter in Massachusetts,” said Neil Rhein, founder and executive director of KMB. “I saw the great success and impact our local affiliate, Keep Mansfield Beautiful, had in Mansfield and decided that this model could succeed in towns and cities across Massachusetts.”
KMB’s three areas of impact are beautification and community greening, waste reduction and recycling, as well as litter prevention and cleanup. The organization’s staff and member chapters explore local communities to pick up litter, recycle waste, and implement small projects that clean up local public spaces such as parks, monuments, traffic-heavy roads, and wooded areas. Rhein said he saw a distinct need in the Bay State to reduce high levels of litter in public spaces while also ensuring Massachusetts’ beauty remained intact for families moving into the state as well as visitors.
“We need to change the culture here in Massachusetts that simply tolerates the vast amounts of litter and debris that can be seen along virtually every highway and roadside,” he continued. “Tourism is a big part of our economy in Massachusetts, and current visitors cannot be impressed by the trash they are seeing. A cleaner, greener, litter-free Massachusetts is good for our residents, businesses, and our economy.”
Along with community projects to clean up areas of concern in Massachusetts, KMB and its local chapters also educate the public on the importance of recycling, picking up litter, and creating green spaces. As part of this community outreach and education, Marsha Goldstein—chapter president of Keep North Attleborough Beautiful (KNAB)—recently spent a full week educating kindergartners at five local schools about the importance of recycling. Goldstein taught the children about the importance of using cloth bags over plastic bags. She also taught the students about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—the largest accumulation of plastic in the world that floats in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California. She discussed the impact of littering on land and sea animals like turtles and fish.
When it comes to beautification projects, volunteering not only provides a service to our communities, it also provides an opportunity to build and sustain relationships. Some community members decided to volunteer to enjoy the great outdoors and lend a helping hand for the beautification of their state. By doing so, they were also able to spend time with neighbors. Rhein said that the signature statewide event, the Great Massachusetts Cleanup, is often successful because of the dedicated volunteers who show up for events every year.
“Our flagship program…attracted nearly 7,000 volunteers in 84 communities in 2017,” Rhein said. “These volunteers removed more than 136 tons of trash. The economic value of these volunteer hours exceeded $530,000.”
KMB’s board chair, Jane Peterson Ellis, started volunteering with her local chapter about 11 years ago and has been thoroughly engaged since. Her hope for the years to come is that KMB will grow across Massachusetts.
“I want every activist in Massachusetts working on clean and green initiatives to be aware of the resources and support [that] KMB can provide,” she said. “Eventually, I want to see a map showing KMB-supported organizations blanketing the state. That impact will create a cleaner, more beautiful, and healthier present and future for Massachusetts residents.”
Volunteer with a local chapter or with the statewide organization Keep Massachusetts Beautiful to do your part in creating a green future for the next generation.