Anti-litter efforts recognized

Published 11:22 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keep Suffolk Beautiful was recently awarded a Bronze Medal in the 2011 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards. The local organization also won a $1,000 grant for preventing cigarette litter.

The governor’s awards recognize the contributions of environmental and conservation leaders in three categories: environmental projects, environmental programs and land conservation. They are given to businesses and industrial facilities, not-for-profit organizations, government agencies and individuals.

Keep Suffolk Beautiful received an award for its Recycling Rangers program, which Hattie Lester, Suffolk litter control coordinator developed from a $10,000 Waste Management grant the affiliate received from Keep America Beautiful Inc.

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“I am extremely excited for this recognition, particularly for what the students at Kilby Shores and Northern Shores Elementary Schools accomplished with the Recycling Rangers program,” Lester said. “They learned the value and the urgency of recycling. It’s imperative for a greener, cleaner future.”

Keep Suffolk Beautiful implemented the Recycling Rangers program in 2009, focusing on students in kindergarten through fifth grade. During the course of the 2009-2010 school year, more than 2,600 pounds of paper for recycling was collected.

Groups of student “rangers” were given authority and responsibility for the success of the program, making monthly rounds at the schools, emptying bins and checking for contamination.

“We are very proud of the Virginians in these private, non-profit and government entities who have demonstrated the innovation and dedication to improve our environment and make the lives of their fellow Virginians better,” McDonnell said.

Award winners were chosen based on criteria including environmental benefit, stakeholder involvement, public outreach, transferability and innovativeness.

Keep Suffolk Beautiful’s grant for cigarette litter prevention was one of 30 grants to be awarded in 30 days in April in honor of Earth Month.

By the end of the month, the statewide organization intends to have provided 10 grants for plastic bag reduction and recycling, 10 grants for community beautification and 10 grants for cigarette litter prevention.

“Butts are litter, too!” is the theme for the campaign in Suffolk. Officials hope to reduce the number of cigarette butts left on the ground at Suffolk parks and events by running public service messages and erecting signs with the slogan on them.

The grant also will help provide more permanent and portable receptacles for cigarette butts at parks and events and will help sponsor a clean-up event, as well.

“Keep Suffolk Beautiful is grateful and honored to receive one of the 30 grants being offered by Keep Virginia Beautiful during Earth Month,” said Hattie Lester, executive director of Keep Suffolk Beautiful and the city’s litter control coordinator. “The funds will go toward educating our citizens that cigarette butts are litter, too, and should be disposed of properly, not out of car windows.”