litter

A community service volunteer picks up litter along SW 20th Avenue Aug. 19.

A local nonprofit carried its weight in trash-collecting from 2018 to 2019.  

The annual report from Keep Alachua County Beautiful showed details and data of beautification efforts such as graffiti and litter cleanup, said Gina Hawkins, the organization’s executive director.  

The organization received $881,276.95 from local, state and federal contributions and grants to complete the various programs, which included $79,100 of city and county funding, she said. For every $1 funded from local government, KACB returned $8.57 in value to the community. 

Over the year, 630,809 pounds of litter and debris was collected throughout Alachua County, and 431,551 pounds of this amount was recycled, Hawkins said. 

“Some of that was storm debris, so the number is a little high this year,” she said. “We were still cleaning from Hurricane Irma.” 

The most common recycled items were bottles, cans and tires, Hawkins said. Examples of collected items that were not recyclable were styrofoam cups, plastic bags and cigarette butts.

More than 5,500 volunteers were involved in programs, which is about a 20 percent increase in volunteers from the previous year, she said. 

“We feel that if citizens have an experience in improving [our community], it will help them appreciate the beauty of our environment here,” Hawkins said. 

Members of the UF Badminton Club volunteer with KACB at least three times a semester, fulfilling most of the service hours required by Southwest Recreation Center, said Aaron Mares, club president. 

“KACB is a big part of how we get those service hours,” the 20-year-old UF computer science senior said. “We have fun with it. We brag about who has the most grabbing-of-trash quality.”

Mares said the Badminton Club had already been involved with KACB in 2017 when he first joined. Club members usually participate in litter cleanups around downtown Gainesville.

“I really feel like a contributing member of society when I’m doing it,” Mares said. “I definitely think it teaches a bit of humility.”