Keep America Beautiful (KAB) announced the postponement of the 23rd annual Great American Cleanup.
Since government and public health officials have called on the public to avoid large gatherings and events to avoid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), KAB said it will resume the Great American Cleanup once it is deemed safe to convene in large groups. The Great American Cleanup normally takes place during the spring months (March 19 through June 20).
Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup event organizers and volunteers are strongly encouraged to seek out further information and guidelines from federal, state and local public health officials so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location.
"At this time, it is of utmost importance that we keep our national network of community-based affiliates, partner organizations and volunteers safe and healthy," said KAB President and CEO Helen Lowman in a statement.
Until further notice, all Great American Cleanup events have been suspended and postponed. The Great American Cleanup is the largest community improvement program in the United States, engaging more than half a million volunteers on an annual basis across 15,000 different opportunities to get involved. In 2019, with the support of 3.8 million volunteer hours, Great American Cleanup volunteers improved 13,489 public spaces; collected 42 million pounds of litter, debris and recyclables; cleaned and improved more than 30,000 miles of roadways and shorelines; and completed 168,000 plantings over 132,000 acres.
Earth Day Network Partnership
This year, Keep America Beautiful forged a partnership with Earth Day Network (EDN), the global coordinator of Earth Day (April 22), in support of Earth Day's 50th anniversary and EDN's Great Global Cleanup in the United States.
The Great American Cleanup was poised to serve as the single largest contributor of volunteers in the U.S. for the Great Global Cleanup, which also has been postponed. The Great Global Cleanup had an ambitious goal of removing a billion pieces of litter and debris from parks, beaches, cities, waterways and wherever waste is found.
With the postponement of live public volunteer events during the Great American Cleanup, the Great Global Cleanup and Earth Day itself, there has been a shift in plans.
In lieu of the postponed live events, Keep America Beautiful invites those interested to join Earth Day Network on April 22 for the first Digital Earth Day, a global digital mobilization in a collective call for climate action.
"In the face of a challenge that unites us all, whether it be coronavirus or our global climate crisis, we cannot shut down," said Kathleen Rogers, EDN president, in a statement. "Instead, we must shift our energies and efforts in new ways to mobilize the world to action."