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Lovettsville Blog: Keeping Lovettsville beautiful

Town councilman Jim McIntyre holds on to his daughter Laraine, 10, as she reaches for some litter in a roadside creek during the Keep Lovettsville Beautiful event April 8. Times-Mirror/Ed Felker
Thanks to Keep Loudoun Beautiful, some community-minded residents and enthusiastic town leadership, folks driving in and out of town may notice a lot less litter along the road than there was a couple weeks ago.

Keep Loudoun Beautiful is a nonprofit organization founded in Loudoun in 1972. The Lovettsville area leader for KLB is Laura Lieberman, a volunteer who works tirelessly in the never-ending struggle against litter. Lieberman went to the town council to try to launch an anti-litter effort here and found an eager ally in town councilman Jim McIntyre. She credits McIntyre for being the driving force behind encouraging the town to adopt a resolution to commit to a day in April for a resident-driven cleanup event. April coincides with Keep Loudoun Beautiful month, which is their spring cleanup, as well as Earth Day (April 22nd).

But while an annual effort is useful, Keep Loudoun Beautiful stresses that it takes awareness not just in April, but year ‘round. “We encourage people to think of earth day as every day,” Mark Lenko, president of KLB’s board of directors, said. “And to pick up litter whenever they see it.”

Because Lovettsville is growing, there is simply more litter. Construction, people driving through and careless residents all contribute to the litter we all see every day along the sides of the road, parking lots and fields. And much, if not most of it, is unintentional.

“People still throw trash out their car windows, but a lot of the litter today is really from the open top recycle bins,” Lenko said. “On a windy day like today, it blows right out and ends up in storm drains and everywhere else.”

Like a lot of other things, there is an expectation that the town government, or state government, or VDOT – someone, anyone, is responsible for this. And to some extent that is true. But, Lieberman explains, it’s not enough to rely on those agencies to keep our community clean. “VDOT’s lowest priority is maintenance and cleanup,” she said. “And they are not well funded.”

The Hillsboro VDOT crew has been very helpful to Lieberman, who is also an Adopt-a-Highway volunteer, providing resources like bags, cones, signs, anything she needs. When you have someone willing to spend precious time cleaning up roadside litter, it pays to support that person. On this day in Lovettsville, KLB provided grabbers, bags, vests and signs.

So civic-minded residents can set aside some time to get involved in an effort like this, or make it part of their daily walks to bring in a few items of litter. People can stop using open top recycle bins that allow litter to be easily blown out and carried great distances in western Loudoun’s winds. Truck beds can be kept clear of potential wind-born litter and construction dumpsters can be responsibly covered. It’s everyone’s responsibility to control their stuff. If you did that, Lenko said, half the litter would be gone.

But another important facet of keeping our slice of the planet clean was in full display at Lovettsville’s event: Youth. Getting kids involved is important, and the earlier the better. “It’s always a thrill to see the kids come out and work side by side with a mentor, to make a difference,” Lenko said. “And to form friendly habits at the same time.”

“Good habits stick with you. Keep reinforcing it, reach for things that are reusable rather than disposable,” Lenko continued. “Probably the number one thing we pick up are disposable water containers. If you can instill in the youth to think reusable instead of disposable, a lot of the stuff we just wouldn’t see here.”

For more information about Keep Loudoun Beautiful and the work they do, visit keeploudounbeautiful.org

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