What We Do
At Keep America Beautiful, it's our mission to inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. We envision a country where every community is a clean, green beautiful place to live.
Through a variety of national programs and initiatives with our more than 600 community-based affiliates and partner organizations, we engage more than 5 million volunteers in our effort to End Littering, Improve Recycling, and Beautify America’s Communities.
For more than six decades, Keep America Beautiful has served as our country’s nonprofit steward of litter prevention.
Litter is more than just a blight on our landscape. Litter is costly to clean up, impacts our quality of life and economic development, and eventually ends up in our waterways and oceans. Among our many initiatives, the Keep America Beautiful Litter Index and Community Appearance Index are step-by-step methods of assessing current litter conditions and other indicators which is used in thousands of communities and by municipalities nationwide. Today, we are as committed as ever to providing people with the resources to help prevent litter with the ultimate goal of helping to end littering in America.
Get the most up-to-date research and information on litter and littering behavior and learn about our programs to help you take action in your community.
Litter and Blight Research
In 2009, Keep America Beautiful invested in a landmark study, called “Litter in America.” Among the highlights: Litter cleanup costs more than $11.5 billion each year. The indirect costs of litter are also considerable. For example, the presence of litter in a community decreases property values by 7 percent. Today, there are more than 50 billion pieces of litter on our nation’s roadways with 4.6 billion pieces larger than four inches in size. Tobacco products continue to be the most prevalent aggregate litter item, comprising more than 35 percent of all litter. Following the landmark 2009 “Litter in America” study, Keep America Beautiful embarked on a new path to address the issue of blight. Working with our State Leaders Council, leaders from affiliates in major metropolitan areas, and consulting firm Econsult Solutions Inc., we produced a National Literature Review on Blight in partnership with the Vacant Properties Research Network, an initiative of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. We're now working on development of a user-friendly blight calculator tool that will estimate costs imposed on a blighted community. You can access these reports in the Research section of the site.
Community Appearance Index
Each year, our powerful network of community-based affiliates conducts a comprehensive assessment of the overall appearance of their community using indicators such as litter, illegal signs, graffiti and more. This proprietary tool, called the Community Appearance Index, is designed to gather data annually by surveying a random, statistical sample of a city or town. The annual results are then used to develop a local plan to change attitudes and behaviors regarding litter and related issues. For more information about the Community Appearance Index, contact our Affiliate Services Department.
Cigarette Litter Prevention Program
The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP) is the nation's largest program aimed at eliminating cigarette litter. Since its inception, the program has been successfully implemented in more than 1,500 U.S. communities nationwide. Over the past 10 years, the CLPP has consistently cut cigarette butt litter by approximately 50 percent in the first four months to six months after program implementation. The initiative provides grant funding and easily accessible information about ash receptacles, pocket and portable ashtrays, and other education and awareness tools. Learn more by going to the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program website.
While many factors play a role in making recycling successful, three key factors guide Keep America Beautiful’s work to improve recycling in America: convenience, communication and cause (getting people to understand the many benefits of recycling and why they should care). By educating and engaging individuals to recycle more of the right things the right way—at home, at work and on-the-go—we can help make recycling more economically viable, creating jobs and providing recyclables to manufacture new products and packaging, while continuing to reap greater environmental and community benefits. Learn more about some of our key recycling programs: America Recycles Day, I Want To Be Recycled, Recycle-Bowl, and RecycleMania.
Public Space Recycling
Keep America Beautiful has several initiatives aimed at expanding and improving the effectiveness of public space recycling programs, also referred to as recycling on the go. We work with corporate sponsors to place recycling bins in public spaces including parks, schools, streetscapes, fairs, venues, colleges, and special events. And we work to understand what motivates recycling behavior and leads to increased recovery, and then disseminate this information to local communities implementing public space recycling programs.
Recycling at Work
“Recycling at Work” is a voluntary national effort to increase recycling in the workplace. The program offers businesses a 10-step action plan, discounts on recycling bins, and other valuable tools to start and expand a workplace recycling program.
We are excited to share Keep America Beautiful's Recycling Impact Infographic, reflecting Keep America Beautiful's overall impact on recycling in 2015. Because of our collective efforts, we have engaged 5.5 million students, collected over 262 million pounds of material to be recycled and/or reused, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of taking 87,827 cars off of the road, per year! View the Recycling Impact Infographic, and feel free to share it.
Beautify America's Communities
In our effort to make sure beauty is our lasting signature, Keep America Beautiful works with millions of volunteers on beautification and greening programs that impact more than 20,000 communities annually. Through programs such as the Great American Cleanup and Community Impact Grants, our actions lead to native species plantings, sustainable community gardens including fruit and vegetable gardens, tree plantings, urban forestry, vacant lot transformation, graffiti abatement, fighting blight, and more.
National Planting Day
Keep America Beautiful's National Planting Day takes place on the first Saturday after Labor Day each September with community-based activities happening throughout the month. National Planting Day celebrates the critical nature of native plants and trees in enhancing biodiversity and rebuilding ecosystems. Join us in celebrating the benefits of green spaces in your communities, which helps make them more environmentally healthy, socially connected, and economically sound. Be sure to join us in celebrating the many benefits of planting native species by participating this year's National Planting Day!