HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell is inviting schools and community groups to join the Fourth Annual Great Pennsylvania Cleanup, a statewide effort to remove litter and trash from roadways, parks, riverbanks and open spaces.
The entire cleanup campaign — with a special emphasis on creating Litter-Free School Zones — will run from March 1 to May 31. A featured one-day, statewide cleanup event will take place on April 21, in conjunction with Earth Day.
“The volunteers of the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup do an outstanding job helping to make Pennsylvania a clean and beautiful place in which to live, work and play,” Governor Rendell said. “Each year, a growing number of Pennsylvanians join together for this important effort. I encourage all citizens to volunteer for or organize a cleanup event in their community.”
Last year, more than 132,000 volunteers from all 67 counties removed 6.7 million pounds of trash from roads, parks, schools, waterways, wildlife areas and communities.
This year’s initiative includes a focus on Litter-Free School Zones, a new program launched by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, cosponsor of the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup. Participating schools agree to check the campus grounds weekly and remove litter, and also to promote and implement all campus events as litter-free events.
Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty visited the Wilson Middle School in Carlisle, Cumberland County, and echoed the governor’s message before 200 enthusiastic sixth-graders who signed personal pledges not to litter.
“Thank you for volunteering to be among the very first students to create a Litter-Free School Zone,” McGinty said. “Litter and illegal dumping affect everyone’s quality of life and I want you to ask all your friends, teachers, coaches and every adult you know to get involved in this year’s Great Pennsylvania Cleanup and to keep Pennsylvania litter-free every day.”
In December 2006, McGinty received Keep America Beautiful’s Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson Award, the organization’s highest award given to women volunteers. This national achievement award is presented annually to an outstanding woman for exceptional leadership in litter prevention and beautification activities.
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Inc. is again playing a major role in the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is supported and sponsored by a wide range of businesses, trade organizations, civic and environmental groups, and state and local government agencies. It is the state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, which was founded in 1953 to promote litter prevention, community beautification and improvement, and waste reduction.
The state departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, Education, Environmental Protection and Transportation are members of the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful alliance.
PennDOT supports the cleanup by providing participants with free gloves, safety vests and trash bags. In 2005, Keep America Beautiful presented PennDOT with one of six partner awards for its role in making the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup a success.
PA CleanWays, a nonprofit group dedicated to fighting illegal dumping and litter, is coordinating all cleanup event registrations and collections reporting.
Member companies of the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association are again offering free landfill space to dispose of nonrecyclable waste collected during the cleanup. Groups must register their events by April 16 to be eligible for this offer.
This year’s Great Pennsylvania Cleanup also features exciting incentives for groups that register their events and report the results of the efforts through a Web site. Random drawings will be held to award gift cards from a growing number of Pennsylvania businesses sponsoring the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup. The Web site offers information on how to take advantage of the national Keep America Beautiful incentive programs.
For information on the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup, and to find or register a cleanup event, visit the above link. The site contains safety information, links to other cleanup organizations, a logo that can be downloaded, T-shirt iron-on transfers and posters, and lesson plans for teachers.
For additional information, call the toll-free Pennsylvania Recycling and Litterbug Hotline at 888-548-8372.