Red, White and Green – How to Have an Eco-Friendly 4th of July

By Johanna Barnowski, Intern

Summer holidays are a great time to celebrate and spend time with family and friends. If you plan on having a party, here are some tips to make your holiday more eco-friendly!

1. Decorations

Backyard barbecues don’t require a lot of decorations, but it’s hard to resist those red, white and blue centerpieces and banners in the $5 and under section at Target. This year, make your own decorations by upcycling!

You can reuse your old k-cups to make a wreath or pop a painted cup over bulbs in a string of lights.

Using living centerpieces is also quick and easy! Pick up a mini tree, wrap the bottom in burlap, tie a ribbon around it and you’ll be set.

Save your decorations for next year or swap with family and friends!

2. Reusable Dishware

It can be easy to pull out the paper plates and plastic cups when you have a large group, but the downside is there are long-lasting consequences for our environment. It is best to use reusable dishes. If you want to use disposable dishware, you can still wash and reuse it at your next party.

Another fun alternative is having your guests bring their own plates! Everyone would be responsible for their own dishes, and the hodge-podge of plates makes it interesting.

3. Use Large Water Containers

We know it’s important to drink water, but it doesn’t have to be out of plastic water bottles! It can be convenient to buy disposable water bottles, but it would save so much waste to use a water jug and reusable cups instead.

Just like with the dishes – guests can bring their own cups!

4. Plan Your Recycling

If you are going to use recyclable dishware, make sure you plan ahead to have a designated recycling bin.  Make sure your bin is clearly marked so your guests know to use it! For information on recycling in the city of Akron click here.

Happy fourth of july Photo.


United Way Day of Action

By Johanna Barnowski, Intern

United Way Day of Action took place on June 21. Through United Way of Summit County, 1,400 volunteers worked on 41 different projects across Summit County. The United Way Day of Action is a way for community members to make a lasting difference and invest in a better future for Greater Akron.

Women hand each other rakes as they work doing mulch

Volunteers working together at Talbot-Whitney Park

Keep Akron Beautiful was able to take a part in two of these projects through the use of our Community Pride Trailer and our Litter and Illegal Dump Cleanup Trailer.

Two women landscaping next to Compass Coffee sign

Volunteers landscaping in front of Compass Coffee at The Well CDC Cleanup Trailer.

Our Litter and Illegal Dump Cleanup Trailer was on site at The Well CDC for “Middlebury Blitz” in the surrounding neighborhood of Middlebury. The Well CDC is dedicated to making Middlebury a thriving community of flourishing people. Middlebury Blitz had a turnout of around 100 volunteers ready to make a difference!

Man pushing wheelbarrow of mulch

Volunteer mulching at The Well CDC

Middlebury Blitz accomplished several different projects such as litter cleanup, landscaping, and building an outdoor stage/patio. These projects will make a lasting difference in Middlebury as they help The Well CDC accomplish their mission.

Men building and half built patio

Patio/stage beginning and progress at The Well CDC

Park sign "city of akron talbot-whitney" park with park in background

Our Community Pride Trailer was on site at The City of Akron Talbot-Whitney Park and East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation (EANDC). This project had a turnout of around 60 volunteers. They worked hard doing landscaping, mulching, litter cleanup, building benches, painting benches, painting playground equipment, planting flowers, and staining fences.

The volunteers (including kids!) were able to completely transform these areas. These projects will help revitalize and strengthen this community.

Keep Akron Beautiful is thrilled that we could assist United Way of Summit County, The Well CDC, The City of Akron, and EANDC by equipping their volunteers with the tools they needed to make change in these communities. Visit The Well CDC, EANDC, and Talbot-Whitney Park to see all that was accomplished from these two projects during United Way Day of Action!

pile of trash bags and debris at park

people feeding vines into truck to chomp them

KAB Welcomes Summer Intern

By Johanna Barnowski, Communications Intern

In high school, I volunteered with Keep Akron Beautiful on “Super Saturday” during Clean Up Akron Month. I never would have guessed that three years later I would be doing a summer internship with KAB. My name is Johanna. I am a senior at The University of Akron studying Communications focused in Public Relations, with a minor in English. I am a member of the Public Relationship Student Society of America, where I have served as Events Coordinator and New Member Recruiter. I’ll be graduating this coming December. Post-graduation I hope to work for a nonprofit organization with a cause that I care about.

intern Johanna Barnowski sitting

I live in Green and grew up in the Akron area. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I love seeing more of the world, meeting new people, and trying new things. I especially love trying new food! One of my favorite places I’ve been is Italy, where the pasta changed my life. I’m also very passionate about coffee!

I never expected to end up in the field of Communications. I didn’t know before how many different areas and jobs you can do in this field. I am passionate about advocating for and helping others. This not only includes people, but it also includes places and things – like this Earth! This is something that I am able to do in this field, and even in this internship.

About a week ago, I volunteered with KAB to execute their annual Community Appearance Index. This gave me the opportunity to see some of the sites KAB takes care of, and to see many parts of Akron that I have never been to. Participating in this made me think about how much KAB does for this community, and what the city of Akron would be like without this organization. I’m excited to see what else KAB does, get more involved in this community, and get real-world experience.

Merriman Hills Garden Club Idea Blooms into Beautification Programming

by Cindy Pantea

merriman hills flowering aasFor longer than the existence of Keep Akron Beautiful and their amazing Flowerscapes, the Merriman Hills Garden Club of Akron, Ohio has been well known in West Akron for planting gardens in traffic islands around their neighborhoods. They are a well-respected, 88-yr-old gardening group.

The garden club holds regular meetings and works to educate themselves on gardening through lectures from Master Gardeners and other horticulture specialists. Their club is member of the Garden Forum of Greater Akron.

It has been said by officials of the Merriman Hills Garden Club, according to an August 27, 2009 article in West Side Leader, that their concept of neighborhood flower garden beautification, originating in 1947, played an instrumental role in inspiring Judy Isroff, the first Executive Coordinator of Keep Akron Beautiful. It was Isroff, along with Vince Lobello and then Mayor Roy Ray, who began the beautification and litter prevention agency in 1981, to bring pride back to the City of Akron.

adopt a site gardenAs such, the Merriman Hills Garden Club has been involved since the inception of Keep Akron Beautiful and its volunteer portion of beautification programming, named Adopt-A-Sites.

In the beginning, the Merriman Hills Garden Club planted ten Keep Akron Beautiful Adopt-A-Site gardens. Currently, members plant five.

Dorothy Lepp is our main contact (2011-current) for the Merriman Hills Garden Club. For Keep Akron Beautiful, this simply means that we have one person listed on file as the main person to call for Adopt-A-Site matters. As far as the garden club group is concerned, this lead role means that Dorothy is charged with the ordering of all flowers, organizing the groups of site volunteers, and keeping a watchful eye on all beds to make sure they are properly maintained.

While the group may plant fewer gardens these days due to less help and physical age, many of their established club members are also Keep Akron Beautiful’s most supportive and longstanding volunteers in not only Adopt-A-Site programming but also other areas, such as Beautification Watch Awards, the Dreamscape fundraiser, and Arbor Day, as well as helping with special projects.

The hard work and dedication of the Merriman Hills Garden Club members shows through their striking gardens and we thank them for originating the idea that planted pride in Akron.

Saturday, May 13, the majority of our Keep Akron Beautiful Adopt-A-Site volunteers picked up their flower orders at our office and will soon be planting their 2017 sites. If you see Adopt-A-Site gardens that you love, let us know so we can share with the volunteer groups!