Many of you reading this article are probably familiar with the slogan, “Keep America Beautiful.” But it’s not just a slogan. It’s an organization with a mission.
This campaign began in 1953. Their mission: “To inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment.”
Then, in 1965, Lady Bird Johnson, the nation’s First Lady at the time, joined the initiative with a focus on highway beautification. Her message and her challenge was this: “Ours is a blessed and beautiful land. But much of it has been tarnished. What can you do? Look around you: at the littered roadside; at the polluted streams; the decayed city center. We need urgently to restore the beauty of our land.”
Mrs. Johnson’s initiative raised awareness in people to accept their role, and take on personal responsibility to keep their communities free from trash.
I grew up during this time. My parents taught me and my five siblings the importance of doing our part to “Keep America Beautiful.”
They taught by example. For a few hours each Saturday, the family would head out to our neighborhood park, litter bags in hand, and pick up trash. We took pride in our job – not to mention that whoever collected the most litter got 25 cents. Being the compulsive cleaner that I am put me at the advantage, and needless to say, I collected a lot of quarters.
I am sharing this story because I very much want to light a fire under people in this incredibly beautiful community, and inspire them to become a part of the solution to clean up the Lowcountry. I want people to get educated about the significant negative impact litter has on our environment. I want parents to teach their children to be leaders in the initiative to Keep America Beautiful.
“People Start Pollution, People Can Stop Pollution.” Can you imagine how much we could get accomplished if we all became part of the solution?
How can you get started? An informal approach is simply gathering up a few friends, get some large trash bags, gloves, and pick an area. It could be anywhere. Make it competitive. Whatever group collects the most bags of garbage in a given time, say one hour, is recognized in some way.
Another approach is to officially Adopt a Highway through our state’s Palmetto Pride organization (email@example.com). You and your group are assigned a road or you can choose your own. The organization will provide you with bags, pickup tools, T-shirts, and other items needed to support your effort.
You can name the group and get a sign recognizing the group on your adopted road. My group, The Trash Terminators, adopted Foreman Hill Road. We are so proud of the positive impact we have had transforming this once litter-infested area into a lovely road.
I hope this article encourages people to get involved and help clean up our beautiful Lowcountry.
For more information, contact Caroline Jordan at 843-441-3849 or CJordan@bcgov.net, or me at 843-816-0318 or firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s make this paradise sparkle once more!
Karen Doughtie is a long-time resident of Bluffton.