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Keep Pa. beautiful: 2021 pick up program to run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30

HARRISBURG — To prevent litter from ending up in our waterways, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful urges Pennsylvania residents to participate in Pick Up Pennsylvania, in support of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. This annual event is an opportunity to improve neighborhoods and Pennsylvania’s waterways by coordinating or participating in a litter cleanup. Registration is now open at https://www.keeppabeautiful.org/programs/pick-up-pa/.

This year’s program runs from September 1 through November 30. During this period, registered events can get free trash bags and gloves provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, PennDOT and the Ocean Conservancy, as supplies last.

In addition to waterway cleanups, land-based cleanups are also eligible since a significant portion of waterway pollution originates on land. The results of a 2019 statewide study on litter, conducted by the Departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, estimated that there are 502 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania roadways. That litter could potentially end up in our oceans. Wind and rain wash litter into storm drains or directly into creeks and rivers that eventually flow to the ocean where it impacts marine life, human health and coastal economies.

Over 30% of all litter found on Pennsylvania roadways is plastic. Plastic litter left in the environemnt breaks down into extremely small pieces called microplastic. Microplastic is virtually impossible to retrieve from our lands and waters. Without an effective way to recover these tiny particles, they make their way into every aspect or lives, from the food and beverages we consume to rain and the air we breath. Microplastics in our oceans fatally affects marine life, other wildlife and enters the food chain, threatening human health.

“The most powerful solution is to stop litter from entering our oceans in the first place by disposing of waste properly, reducing the amount of products we purchase, and improving waste management systems overall. You can help by cleaning up in and around your community! Grab a bag and collect litter from the side of the road, parks, fields and sidewalks before it finds its way into a storm drain or local waterway,” said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

The Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup engages hundreds of thousands of volunteers from around the world to remove millions of pounds of plastics and debris from beaches, lakes and waterways. This event has grown to include participation by all 50 states and U.S. territories and 90 countries with the number growing each year. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is proud to coordinate this effort in Pennsylvania. In 2020, nearly 12,000 volunteers canvassed their communities to remove 777,650 pounds of trash and 122,600 pounds of tires from Pennsylvania’s lands, waterways and coastal regions from September through November.

Individuals, families, neighbors, students, civic organizations and local governments are all invited to participate. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful suggests following all applicable federal, state and local health and safety rules for Novel Coronavirus (Covid 19) in effect at the time of the event.

To register your cleanup event, visit keeppabeautiful.org/programs/pick-up-pa/. Questions can be answered by Michelle Dunn, Pick Up Pennsylvania Program Coordinator, at 877-772-3673 ext. 113 or mdunn@keeppabeautiful.org.

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