Great American Cleanup efforts net 126,480 pounds of discarded items
by Marie Nesmith
Jun 09, 2013 | 2611 views | 0 0 comments | 120 120 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Great American Cleanup
Denise Orr holds a garbage bag while her granddaughter, Sydney Orr, collects trash during an Adopt-A-Road cleanup on a 1.7-mile stretch of Bells Ferry Road in May. The effort was a part of Bartow’s Great American Cleanup, which collected 126,480 pounds of litter and discarded items from March to May. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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For Jonathan Good, spearheading an Adopt-A-Road effort is an ideal way to help his neighborhood and community.

Forming about a month ago, the group collects litter along a 1.7-mile stretch of Bells Ferry Road, around the Home Place and Highland Pointe neighborhoods. Planning to hold cleanups at least quarterly, Good said five volunteers picked up about 18 bags of trash May 18.

“I got sick and tired of looking at all the trash on my road and thinking that I lived in some kind of a Third World country,” Good said. “You can sit around complaining that the government isn’t doing enough ... or you can actually do something about it. I thought if I got enough people together we could easily do that. It wouldn’t take too much effort. ... [On May 18] I wasn’t particularly shocked with what we collected. Most of the time it’s just fast-food trash and bottles. It’s stuff that people, they can’t be bothered to keep in their cars. They just throw it out the windows.

“The best thing, of course, would be for people not to throw stuff out of their cars in the first place. That’s what I’d really like. It’s not too much effort to keep it in your car. Having said that, I just became a [U.S.] citizen, and they did give a speech at the induction ceremony about giving to your community or volunteering in your community and I thought this was a perfect example of chipping in and making things look nice.”

The Bells Ferry Adopt-A-Road project was one of numerous efforts conducted throughout the county during the Great American Cleanup. Spanning March to May, the initiative is sponsored locally by Keep America Beautiful’s Bartow County chapter.

With a total of 126,480 pounds of litter and discarded items, the communitywide effort consisted of 700 volunteers and various Adopt-A-Road projects — some of which included Good’s Bells Ferry Road group and Adairsville High School’s JROTC — and the following collections: Anheuser-Busch River Cleanup “America Made Better” April 13, Ray Southern Memorial “Atco Village” Cleanup April 20, city of Emerson Community Cleanup April 20, Taylorsville Community Cleanup April 20, Gene Thacker Memorial Cleanup — Georgia Highlands College April 27, Waterside Community Cleanup April 20 and the Allatoona Junk Dump June 2 and the week of May 6.

“Of course you always have mixed feelings,” said Sheri Henshaw, coordinator for Keep Bartow Beautiful. “I’m very sad that there’s that much trash and litter to be collected, but I’m glad that we were able to do that through volunteer efforts and through people willingly and happily being glad to participate, do their part for the community and to follow through with those efforts during the Great American Cleanup. So I’m glad we were able to collect those and get those numbers because that’s that much that has been properly disposed of.

“... It’s important on a number of levels. It’s important to show that, as [a] citizen you always think what kind of world do I want to live in? And you want to live in a community that cares about others and that you feel like people matter, that the planet matters, that wildlife and nature have a relevance here, that people maintain their communities and respect one another. It’s a lot of issues about just respect — respecting others, respecting the planet, respecting the laws. So we think it’s an issue that is really important and relevant. And then, every time we do these events somebody else is educated to something that they didn’t realize before.”

While some cleanup projects collected discarded trash, the Allatoona Junk Dump was the recipient of some larger unwanted items, with residents dropping furniture and scrap metal. Of the 126,480-pound total for the Great American Cleanup, 76,480 pounds were credited to the Allatoona event.

“We started the Allatoona Community Association ... at least five, six years [ago and] we’ve been trying to improve that community ever since then,” Henshaw said. “We started the nonprofit with the idea of trying to attack the issues that were problems in the community and not just trash but drugs and theft and some abandoned houses — sort of consistent concerns. And to see it come this far where we’ve had something like the Junk Dump is amazing for folks to begin to respond to cleaning up that neighborhood down there.

“... We’ve never had [a compactor site] in the Allatoona area. So they don’t have a place to take their trash unless they cart it across the lake. And we [assist with] the Junk Dump by setting up a site for one day that is like one of our compactor sites and we collect. We advertise it as a cleanup. And the cars [and trucks] come in en masse [and] bring all kinds of things. We have old furniture. We have boats — we’ve collected boats before — [and] scrap metal of all kinds. That’s the numbers that you see on the Junk Dump is that people just [turn] out en masse to clean up their mess that one day.”

Keep Bartow Beautiful’s data reports its cost benefit analysis for the Great American Cleanup should be similar to last year’s results in which the county received an estimated $1,500 in donated goods and services, educational value and volunteer hours for every $1 spent. Based on Keep Bartow Beautiful’s annual report, the cost benefit analysis includes three components: beautification, recycling and litter reduction.

“What it basically means is through these events we are creating a cost avoidance,” said Missy Phillips, assistant director for Keep Bartow Beautiful. “By having these events we’re actually getting services for free that we do not have to pay for — litter abatement programs, education, pickup, dump removal, those kinds of things.

“[The Great American Cleanup volunteers] were brilliant. Everybody really responds well and they picked all different dates, which to me meant we were actually getting a more diverse population or demographic. And it’s creeping into other areas. It’s involving people that normally would not have or have not yet been involved. Part of the education value of the cost benefit analysis is that we are creating an atmosphere ... [for] a behavior change.”

For more information about Keep Bartow Beautiful and its programs, including forming Adopt-A-Road efforts, visit www.bartowga.org or call 770-387-5167.