Keep Waco Beautiful has been around for quite some time. We have accomplished many beautifications in our great city and that was mainly what we were known to do. Frances Sturgis, the founder of KWB and good friends with Lady Bird Johnson, had a vision for Waco. What started out as just a small beautification committee, The Greater Waco Beautification Committee, grew to be one of Keep America Beautiful and Keep Texas Beautiful affiliates established in 1979. We have raised millions of dollars in beautification efforts across all of Waco and even won the GCAA a total of 7 times.
Now, we just needed to step up and do our part in education outreach and litter prevention. When I came on board with KWB in 2012 as the Program Manager, it was my job to get the ADOPT-A-PROGRAM back to where it used to be. My goal was to get all 43 parks adopted.
Through this adventure, I noticed when groups adopted these areas and cleaned them, all the trash and debris went into one bag, no matter if the material collected was recyclable or not. This bag went straight to landfill. Recycling wasn't appreciated nor looked at as a NEED! We now offer clear bags for recyclables.
I noticed we didn't do much outreach for recycling in schools, as well. It was getting harder and harder to find schools that would let me get involved, so I put my efforts in our cleanups. We have a strong relationship with our Solid Waste department and increased our efforts by hosting quarterly river cleanups and a National Public Lands Day at Lake Waco. Each event we get more and more participation from the community. Since we've had such a boom in the economy due to the "Silo Effect," more people are coming and going.
We've noticed a decline in active Neighborhood Associations, so we decided to clean up by districts, providing curbside pickups of bulky waste and brush, no matter the size for FREE! We have a trailer for tire collection as well. Our next District cleanup is July 28th in District 2.
We try to divert as much of the materials collected at the curbside from our landfill. We partner will organizations like Goodwill and Waco ReStore to take the useable bulky waste. We shred any of the brush that's collected. We have limited space left in our current landfill, approximately 6 years. We have taken a new role and partnership with the City of Waco to extend our landfill's capacity as long as possible, and to do so, we need the public to understand #ReduceReuseRecycle!
The City of Waco has recently pulled all the recycling efforts from any of the FREE events offered to Waco citizens, such as, "Food Truck Show Down," "Brazos Nights," and "Pints in the Park" due to contamination.
We needed to come up with a strategic plan to get the public on board with recycling so we dediced to start with an event that happens every Saturday, the Downtown Waco Farmers Market. We applied for the Recycle 2 Support grant to get the Farmers Market the coorect bins to accomplish our mission and by surprise, we WON! We have partnered with Group "W" Bench Litter Patrol to help with our mission of education. Once we get recycling established at the Market, the plan is to have the city bring back the recycling bins for the free events and we'll be there to patrol and educate as well. We will be out at the Market every Saturday to patrol and educate in litter placement, spreading the word of curbside recycling and how you can do your part in KEEPING WACO BEAUTIFUL!
Blog post written by Ashley Millerd, Executive Director of Keep Waco Beautiful.