Keep Akron Beautiful Says: Please Try to Put Us Out of Work!

by Cindy Pantea

keep america beautiful logoJanuary 23-26, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Keep America Beautiful conference along with CEO, Jacqui Ricchiuti, and Helen Dauka of the Keep Akron Beautiful staff.

I was prepared for taking away ideas on how to engage more people to take responsibility for the community in which they live, work or visit. Keep America Beautiful did just that, so I want to share the main idea with you:

We want you to put us out of work!

Here’s what we mean:

People Litter with Intent

Part of day two of our conference involved listening to a panel discussion with social/behavioral psychologists who performed the nation’s largest study on littering behavior in 2009 and who are currently updating their findings. They have determined that most people who litter do so with intent. As such, it was clear to me that the responsibility of our agency remains important in reducing garbage in our public spaces.

Litter Pickup/Beautification Important

Why? Because even though individuals choose to litter, they are still more likely to trash an already littered environment, but by removing it promptly, it can help limit the littering and keep trash buildup from spinning out of control. In addition, beautification plays an important role in helping to control litter. Plus, constant reminders of what is expected of individuals, either by education, enforceable laws or public signage, has an effect on how much litter shows up in our public spaces…and it’s what we do.

Litter Requires a Behavioral Change

Unfortunately, the fact remains that the majority of litter is purposeful and reasons for littering can range anywhere from:

  • How you’re feeling that day to
  • Temperature or time of day to
  • Not knowing what to do with the item in hand to
  • Expecting that someone else will handle to
  • Pure laziness with regards to receptacle convenience to
  • No consequences for the crime

…and more!

Not Surprising/Surprising

cigarette butt litterNot surprising of the professionals’ findings is that cigarette butts remains the most littered item (seemingly due to the lack of available cigarette butt receptacles). This was followed by food wrappers or remnants and paper. What may be surprising is that public trash cans do not keep an area completely litter free. Take, for example, those who shoot, miss and leave their trash next to a receptacle. Yet, the placement of cans fewer than 10 feet from an individual did play a significant role in the amount of litter in the public space. This may be important for your next event litter and recycling needs, and we have the loan-a-receptacle program to help. Side note: I recently took a beach vacation where cigarette butt recycling and no cigarette litter signs were prominent and trash/recycling was less than. Result: No cigarette butts, but instead, a whole lot of empty water bottles at the sand volleyball courts!

Bad News/Good News

Bad news is that while you would think our youth are more environmentally conscious, those 30 and younger tend to litter more often. Also, people who believe that litterbugs should be held legally responsible for their actions actually have admitted that they themselves are guilty of littering! Good news is that there has been a reduction in overall litter over a 40-year span.

Your KAB

Keep Akron Beautiful helps to provide public litter control year round. In the winter months, the crews are out removing debris from highways, parks, and roadways. If there is heavy snow on the ground causing litter to become invisible, the crews are still busy helping the city to shovel sidewalks.

Knowing how littered the streets could be is why there are many folks who say to us frequently, “What would happen if you didn’t exist?!” Yet, we urge you to try to put us out of work by putting litter in its place and encouraging your friends, kids and neighbors to do the same.

Thank you for doing your part to end littering and to keep Akron beautiful. It’s up to all of us.

See key findings of 2009 litter study:

Read the 2009 litter study:


Litter Hurts

by Cindy Pantea

A plastic bag stuck in a tree. Plastic 6-pack rings, jars and metal cans laying on the ground. We’ve all witnessed it. Sometimes we even rationalize that it was because of a wind storm that blew it out of the garbage or recycling bin and do nothing because “it’s only one piece” or “someone else will get it.”

Sometimes we all need a little friendly reminder from our favorite critters that it could be a big deal. Sometimes we need reminded that with just a little extra effort, we can keep our environment beautiful and our favorite animals safe. So, here is a little PowerPoint movie to do just that.

Do you like turtles? Then you will love Peanut…

Happy July 4th to one and all and thank you for helping to keep Akron and America beautiful.

Special thank yous and attributions for the PowerPoint presentation:

Pictures (in order of viewing)
Slide 1-“Dance of Love” by Lori Branham:
Slide 2-Turtle and Plastic Bag via Melbourne Zoo, Australia:
Slide 3-Great Blue Heron Trying to Eat Bait Fish:
Slide 5-”Pink Plastic Bag Stock Photo” by winnond:
Slide 5-”Shopping Bags on White Background Stock Photo” by kraifreedomat:
Slide 6-”Sort Plastic Bags Out” via City of Fort Collins website:
Slide 7-”Six Pack Rings” via Wikipedia:
Slide 8-Google Search May 2015 “how six pack rings hurts wildlife”
Slide 9-”Pair of Scissors” by keerati:
Slide 10-Bing Search May 2015 “make something from six pack rings:
Slide 11-Peanut w/six pack ring via Missouri Department of Conservation and No More Trash –
Slide 12-Keep Akron Beautiful Clean Up Akron Month 2015 at Summit Lake in Akron Ohio
Slide 13-Brushtail Possum: Victim of Litter via RSPCA Queensland via
Slide 14-”Golden Flying Balloons On The Sky Background Stock Photo” by Serge Bertasius Photography
Slide 15-Keep Akron Beautiful Clean Up Akron Month 2015 at Summit Lake in Akron Ohio

Thank you to the Missouri Department of Conservation and No MOre Trash! for allowing us to share Peanut’s story and inspiring us
Thank you to Rob for realistic  litter problem photojournalism via Kayaking the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta at
Thank you to the RSPCA Queensland for your support and education
Thank you to our awesome volunteers who help during Clean Up Akron Month:

Litter Hurts and How You Can Help

by Cindy Pantea


Litter Getter science project by Maria McNutt, Litchfield Middle School

Litter degrades society and can harm people and wildlife. This was a discussion statement made by Litchfield middle school student, Maria McNutt, for her environmental science fair project* Litter Getter.

Just doing a quick search on Google for the effects of littering brings up its harm, including clean up costs, public health concerns and water contamination as well as startling images of wildlife, with their body parts caught in various types of litter debris.  

Just like Miss McNutt, Keep Akron Beautiful is determined to find ways to combat litter problems in our great Akron city. One effort that helps is our litter and illegal dumping collection program. It is a fact that litter invites more litter, and this program does help reduce it. Of course this alone doesn’t solve the issue, which is why many of our other endeavors fall under public awareness and education.

This is where you can help…

April is Clean Up Akron Month

clean up akron keep akron beautiful

Clean up volunteers

In an effort to engage the Akron community to take greater responsibility for the environment and teach each other about the effects of litter, Keep Akron Beautiful designates April as Clean Up Akron Month. This is a program that initially began as a week during the month of April, but with so many people wanting to be involved, the program grew into a month-long event.

To be a part of this event, visit to register yourself, your group, your family, etc. To complete this registration:

  1. Click on the “Register Now” button and fill out form, remembering that your registration will be under the group name that you fill in.
  2. Download the “Downloadable Clean Up Akron Month Packet” print the waivers.
  3. Have each member of your group fill out the waiver form (NOTE: There is one form for adults and one form for young adults and children under 18).
  4. Bring waivers to pick up supplies between 3/30/15 and 4/31/15 at the KAB office supplies. (NOTE: Use your GROUP NAME).

Or, if you would prefer:

  1. Download the “Downloadable Clean Up Akron Month Packet” OR call the KAB office at 330.375.2116 to have us mail you a packet.
  2. Fill out the forms in the packet, remembering that your registration will be under the group name that you fill in.
  3. Mail in the necessary forms. (NOTE: You may bring in the signed waivers when you pick up your supplies.)
  4. Come to the office between 3/30/15 and 4/31/15 to pick up supplies. (NOTE: Use your GROUP NAME.)

We look forward to your involvement!

Keep Akron Beautiful and Akron Litter and Illegal Dumpsites

At Keep Akron Beautiful, our litter crews work daily to pick up litter in our parks as well as on our roadsides, including interstates. With interstates, unintentional littering — the result of unsecured loads on vehicles — greatly adds to the unsightly trash problem.

For example, our agency’s year-end documentation shows that in 2014 KAB crew picked up:

  1. 4,831 bags of trash along the expressways.
  2. 1,367 bags of trash in our parks and on our roadsides.
  3. 711 bags of recyclables.
  4. 362 tires (which were picked up and disposed of properly at Lightner Tire, 780 E. Waterloo Rd.).
  5. 47.9 tons of illegal dumping debris.
littered tires keep akron beautiful

Tires found during a clean up at Buchtel High School

These numbers are completely separate from the 2014 Clean Up Akron Month numbers, which engaged 4,240 volunteers who cleaned up 128 public sites including 36 city parks, 6 community centers and 20 schools. The amount of litter collected during this event was 20,680 pounds (or 10.34 tons) of litter, along with 880 pounds of recyclables. They also collected 106 tires, coats, clothes, plastic furniture and pieces of cars, which were illegally dumped.

We continue our mission of improving Akron’s quality of life through beautification and responsible environmental management. We thank our donors and sponsors for supporting this mission. These supporters are listed on our donations page.





*The Litter Getter project was displayed at the 59th annual Akron Public Schools Science, Math and Technology Expo held at North High School on Saturday, January 24, 2015.




2014 Community Appearance Index Results

By: Genevieve Bohnak, The University of Akron Intern

Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) conducted the Community Appearance Index on June 13, 2014, a tool designed by Keep America Beautiful to visually assess the overall appearance of communities through indicators such as litter, illegal signs, and graffiti. A team of community, business, and government representatives conducted the visual analysis using a scoring system with choices ranging from 1-4, with “1” being minimal or no litter to “4” being extremely littered.

The Litter Index for the city of Akron rated 1.3. Temporary Illegal Signage Index rated a 1.08, reflecting an average of fewer than 5 signs illegally placed on public land in any one ward and the Graffiti Index rated a 1.06. A 2 graffiti rating would mean 1-2 small tags per ward, no larger than 6 feet by 6 feet and could be cleaned up by 1-2 people.

This year’s index numbers for litter, illegal signs, and graffiti have improved since last year’s survey. While all ten wards scored an average number less than 2, Ward 2 had the lowest average number of litter, illegal signs, and graffiti amounts. The City of Akron’s overall Litter Index decreased from last year’s index number from 1.6 to 1.3 and the illegal temporary signage index significantly decreased from 1.5 to a 1.08! The graffiti index had a slight increase from 1 to 1.08 when comparing 2014’s rating to last year’s numbers.

This year the survey team included: Terry Glidden, Gas Operations Manager of Dominion East Ohio and KAB Board Member; Sue Kruder, Emeritus KAB Board Member, Cheryl  Johnson, Motor Equipment Customer Service Request Agent, Ann Hubiak and Jane Delcamp KAB Volunteers, Anthony King, Supervisor from Street Cleaning and Genevieve Bohnak, summer intern from KAB.