By Helena Tavares Kennedy, Contributing Writer
Keep Prince William Beautiful (KPWB) is a small organization with a big task. This nonproﬁt group works to decrease litter, increase recycling and generally beautify the community. Its volunteers never have a problem ﬁnding a shopping center or neighborhood that needs help with trash cleanup.
However, cleaning up litter does not get to the root of the problem. Anderson said that while KPWB started as a litter removal program, it has expanded to include educational programs for homeowner associations (HOAs), neighborhoods and local schools. Formerly known as the Clean Community Council, KPWB underwent a name change in 2012 to reﬂect a switch in mission from reacting to litter issues to being proactive.
For example, the KPWB school program challenges students to look for three items that have recycling symbols and to point them out to their parents. By educating residents in Prince William about recycling and litter, KPWB is trying to change behavior so there is less litter. “Cleaning up is great, but we are trying to change the culture,” said Kelly Easterly, president of KPWB. Easterly said that educating students is especially important because children are often more open than adults to changing their habits.
In addition to year-round community cleanups and educational oﬀerings, KPWB also runs several other programs:
- Litter Survey: Volunteers conduct a quarterly survey of area roads using a 1 to 5 rating system to report current litter status. The information is then shared with the Prince William County’s Litter Control Crew for improvements.
- Adopt-A-Spot: Volunteers adopt their neighborhood, block or favorite spot and agree to clean it up at least nine times per year.
- Clean Shopping Center Program: Volunteers use a 32-point survey quarterly to inspect the property, reporting ﬁndings to the center’s management. The data is used to help positively impact the environment of shopping centers and to oﬀer encouragement to centers that meet community cleanliness standards.
KPWB also works with other local conservation and environmental organizations, such as the Master Gardeners and Friends of Occoquan. Easterly said KPWB will often co-host cleanup events with a speciﬁc watershed conservation group, for example. This type of teamwork ensures that all the organizations seeking to beautify Prince William are working together and not duplicating eﬀorts.
Other partners include the Prince William County Police Department, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Prince William County Adult Detention Center and the Board of County Supervisors. Each of these government entities has a representative on KPWB’s board of directors to ensure that the group’s activities and programs work in conjunction with and have the support of the local government. Maria Sinner, VDOT’s transportation and land use director for Prince William County, said this is a “great partnership” and that she appreciates all the hard work KPWB does to keep Prince William beautiful.
Longtime KPWB volunteer and president of a local HOA, Allyson Avery ﬁrst became involved with the organization more than seven years ago after it helped make her community cleanup a success. “eir guidance with our spring and fall community cleanup programs and the Adopt-A-Spot program has helped the residents of our neighborhood give back to the community and to have fun accomplishing things that otherwise would not have occurred,” she said. Avery said she does not think KPWB is like any other conservation organizations in the area because it’s staff and volunteers have a “commitment to teach and encourage residents to live a sustainable life to extend Earth’s resources.”
Five Ways You Can Keep Prince William Beautiful
1. Check your trash. Are there any recyclable items, such as glass or cans? Ask your waste removal company which items can be recycled curbside, and visit www.pwcgov.org to learn which can be recycled at the landfill.
2. Reduce your use of plastic bags. Keep reusable shopping bags in your car so they are on hand when you go to the store.
3. Give kitchen waste a new life. Compost non-meat kitchen scraps and yard waste and use it as free fertilizer for your trees, grass and flowers.
4. Go on a water diet. Water your garden early or late in the day to avoid water evaporation. You can also collect runoff in rain barrels for watering. Inside, fix leaky faucets and install low-flow faucets and shower heads.
5. Go green. Donate to the National Arbor Day Society and it will send you free trees to plant; go to www.arborday.org. conservation organizations in the area because its staﬀ and volunteers have a “commitment to teach and encourage residents to live a sustainable life to extend Earth’s resources.
With a relatively small staﬀ, KPWB always needs volunteers, Avery said. “[Volunteers] remain our greatest basic necessity.” People who want to help but are short on time can do simple things. Avery suggested spreading the word to friends “interested in helping their community and the environment, or just volunteer your time or services for a speciﬁc event.” KPWB posts upcoming volunteer opportunities on its website, www.keepprincewilliambeautiful.org.
A nonproﬁt marketing director, Helena Tavares Kennedy was an “Earthling” (a member of her school environmental club) in elementary school, helped implement her college’s ﬁrst dorm recycling program and now enjoys freelance writing in her spare time. Read her blog at LivingGreenDayByDay.blogspot.com. She has lived in Manassas with her husband and two children for 12 years and can be reached at email@example.com.