Litter is a problem that plagues many cities around the world, and Fayetteville is included. Every piece of trash  tossed onto the ground has a huge impact on the city. First, and most obvious, it is ugly and devalues all of the amazing opportunities that Fayetteville has to offer. Second, it has a huge effect on the environment. Cigarette butts leak harmful chemicals into the water and soil. Large amounts of litter attract harmful vermin and bugs. Plastics are often eaten by local animals, which can eventually kill them. Litter is ugly and dangerous but cleaning it up is often a very expensive endeavor. The U.S. spends billions on it annually. On April 2, Fayetteville Beautiful hosts its annual citywide cleanup. It is a chance for the public to come out and make a difference in the local landscape.

“This is an opportunity for all the citizens of the city to participate in, as George Breece would say, ‘cleaning up their bedroom.’ We are giving the opportunity to citizens to feel good and to clean up their neighborhood, park or thoroughfare — or an area that they feel is blighted or ugly,” said Bobby Hurst, Fayetteville Beautiful spokesman. “Families, neighbors, organizations, youth groups are all encouraged to participate. The more people that help, the cleaner the city will be for ourselves and visitors who have first and lasting impressions of the city.”

Fayetteville Beautiful is a group of volunteers that has decided enough is enough. The organization has three core issues. Litter prevention, which goes along with the citywide clean up. Beautification, which goes along with planting. Third, is waste reduction. “The people and animals of the area deserve a beautiful and clean city to live and thrive,” said Hurst.

On the day of the  citywide cleanup, volunteers meet up and spend a day picking up all of the litter from various locations around the city. Fayetteville is a large city with a lot of areas that could benefit from a cleanup. Groups and individuals can pick a particular area of interest by “adopting” the street or park. This can be done by registering at http://fcpr.us/fayetteville_beautiful.aspx. The more people that participate, the  more Fayetteville will benefit. 

Participants should meet from 8 until 9:30 a.m. at the entrance to Cross Creek Park on Green Street. This is the distribution site where orange bags, gloves and bottled water are given out. Volunteers fill the orange bags with the collected litter and leave the full tied bags along the way. Organizers with Fayetteville Beautiful will then collect the full bags for disposal. It is for this reason that it is vital for volunteers to register and adopt their intended clean up sites. This also helps to prevent too many volunteers working on one area. 

“Seeing more people get involved and care about their city is the most exciting thing for me,” said Hurst. “Eighty-five percent of littering is individual attitudes and the key is to change individual’s behavior. This is the result from a 2009 survey done by Keep America Beautiful. Our goals for the future are for more people to get involved to be a cleaner city.”

In the past, these citywide cleanups have been an incredible success. Last year’s boasted 707 volunteers who picked up 14,531 pounds of litter. Over the past 11 years Fayetteville Beautiful has had 10,934 volunteers pick up over 132 tons of liter along 216 miles or roadside. These numbers show what a huge difference volunteering a few hours on a weekend can do. 

Besides volunteering with Fayetteville Beautiful there are other ways to reduce the litter around town. Recycle and use reusable containers whenever possible. Make sure trash containers have tightly fitted lids so that weather or animals don’t blow trash away. Adopt a street or area and dedicate time to keeping it clean. Report litter violations and discourage friends and family from littering. Make sure appropriate trash and recycling receptacles are available and emptied often. Fayetteville Beautiful also accepts donations and has volunteer opportunities beyond the annual citywide cleanup. For more information visit

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