Keeping NEPA Beautiful, From Sunup to Sundown

Rachael Stark, Northeastern Pennsylvania Program Coordinator

The Great American Clean Up is an annual initiative that brings thousands of Americans together to beautify and restore their communities. It is a massive effort that aims to clean our streets, parks and waterways of litter and debris and restoring these spaces to their original beauty. This effort not only makes our surroundings more pleasant to live in but also helps protect and improve the environment for future generations. 

This initiative brings about a sense of pride and ownership in our communities. It is a reminder that we have a responsibility to take care of our surroundings, and that we can make a difference when we work together. Volunteers are not just cleaning up their own neighborhoods; they are also helping to create a better space for everyone. 

PEC’s Keep America Beautiful affiliate — Keep NEPA Beautiful — took advantage of public excitement around the initiative and launched the inaugural Sun-up to Sun-set Clean Up on April 15th. The event, which was funded by the Scranton Area Foundation and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, included several clean ups spanning from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., or from around sunup to sunset. 

Partnerships made this event possible. Groups from Scranton Prep, the University of Scranton, Rotary Clubs, Scranton Tomorrow, and NeighborWorks joined in and volunteered to be a part of the organized efforts. Some groups coordinated their own event, while others piggybacked on the events scheduled by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority along their Urban Trail. 

Many volunteers removed trash from the river, on the trail, and near abandoned camps previously used by displaced persons. Some groups focused on urban areas within the city of Scranton, public parks, and other areas where people frequent.

A special thanks goes to Waste Management, which waived disposal costs for this clean-up. Throughout the month of April, Waste Management sites donated disposal of more than 22 tons of waste collected across eastern Pennsylvania and Alliance Landfill donated disposal of almost 9 tons of waste collected in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne and Pike counties. That’s over 30 tons of trash removed from the natural environment thanks to community efforts this spring.

Most importantly, this trash was kept from the Lackawanna River and other waterways in Lackawanna County. According to the EPA, most of the trash that pollutes waterways comes from sources on land. This negatively impacts water quality, endangers plants, and has potential health impacts on animals and humans who are regularly consuming small doses of microplastics. 

You can keep our ecosystem healthy and our outdoor spaces green by properly disposing of your own waste and participating in a cleanup in your community. Learn more about how you can participate with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful