Keep America Beautiful

1954 litterbug sign

KAB : A Beautiful History

Long before being "green" was fashionable, Keep America Beautiful formed in 1953 when a group of corporate and civic leaders met in New York City to discuss a revolutionary idea — bringing the public and private sectors together to develop and promote a national cleanliness ethic.

Take a stroll through Keep America Beautiful's many historic milestones below:

1953 - 1970

National Advisory Council organizes.

Susan Spotless 1963 ad1956
First public service announcement (PSA) on litter prevention appears.

Work begins with the Ad Council for ongoing PSA campaigns.

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson joins Keep America Beautiful in promoting highway beautification program.

Canine TV star Lassie appears as mascot for an anti-litter campaign.

Start of “Crying Indian” PSA campaign, iconic symbol of environmental responsibility and one of the most successful PSA campaigns in history.

Back to top

1971 - 1980


Research reveals the three reasons why people litter and litter's seven primary sources.

Artist Bob Timberlake begins longstanding partnership with Keep America Beautiful.

Introduction of the Clean Community System, precursor to the Keep America Beautiful System.

Waste in Place1978
Georgia Clean & Beautiful becomes first Keep America Beautiful statewide program.

Waste in Place, Keep America Beautiful's first teacher curriculum supplement, launches.

Back to top



1981 - 1993

President Reagan endorses the Clean Community System.

First Public Lands Day takes place.

Keep America Beautiful and GLAD launch the GLAD Bag-a-Thon program, precursor to the Great American Cleanup™.

Take Pride in America1986
Take Pride in America program, created to promote wise use of public lands, begins with federal agencies. First Vision for America Award Dinner takes place.

Keep America Beautiful expands its mission to include solid waste education. Solid Waste Committee forms with waste experts from industry and government.

First international affiliate, St. John's, New Brunswick, Canada, joins Keep America Beautiful.  First video conference on solid waste held.>

First training held on solid waste issues for Keep America Beautiful coordinators.  Waste in the Workplace waste reduction guide for businesses published.

Second video conference takes place, on recycling capabilities and limitations. "For Future Generations" PSA launches.


Back to top



1994 - 2007

iron eyes cody print ad - 1980s1994
The "Role of Recycling in Integrated Waste Management" study gets published.

"Close the Loop, Buy Recycled" U.S. EPA partnership program unveils. "Graffiti Hurts" is created.

"Back By Popular Neglect" PSA campaign launches.

Keep America Beautiful/U.S. Conference of Mayors Urban Litter Partnership National Summit takes place.  Great American Cleanup™ launches.

Research launches for national Cigarette Litter Prevention Program. 

KAB introduces new Web-based educational tools, including Clean Sweep U.S.A.

The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program directly addresses the nation's most widespread litter problem -- improperly disposed cigarette butts.

New KAB Program, The Curbside Value Partnership (CVP), is established to increase participation in curbside recycling programs nationwide.

Keep America Beautiful becomes a sponsor of the nation's largest collegiate recycling competition, RecycleMania, and assumes the administrative duties of RecycleMania as well.

KAB also takes the helm of America Recycles Day, a nationally-recognized initiative dedicated to encouraging people to recycle more at home, at work.

recyclemania coleege students

Back to top



Retro KAB:
Historical PSA Ads

1970s TV set

View the original KAB 1971 "Iron Eyes Cody" PSA (Windows Media - 60 sec.)

View the 1998 "Back by Popular Neglect" PSA (Windows Media - 30 sec.)

View a historic print PSA