Keep America Beautiful

Keep America Beautiful is an environmental organization founded in 1953. It is the largest community improvement organization in the United States, with approximately 580 affiliate organizations (similar to local chapters) and more than 17,000 participating communities in their signature annual event - the Great American Cleanup.

KAB focuses on three key issues: litter prevention, the waste hierarchy: waste reduction, reuse, recycling and community beautification (tree planting, community gardens). This is accomplished through a combination of community organizing, public education and the fostering of public/private partnerships.


Keep America Beautiful was founded in 1953 by consortium of American businesses, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and concerned individualsFact|date=May 2008 in reaction to the growing problem of highway litter that followed the construction of the Interstate Highway System, and an increasingly mobile and convenience-oriented American consumer. The goal of the organization was to reduce litter through public education and advertising.

KAB had many early local ad campaigns, including an effort in Pennsylvania that coined the term "litterbug." Another popular television campaign theme from the mid 1960's was [ "Every Litter Bit Hurts"] featuring character "Susan Spotless."

In the early 1970s, a new campaign was launched with the theme “People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It,” a public service announcement featuring the now iconic "Crying Indian," Iron Eyes Cody. Notably, Cody was not actually of Native American ancestry, but Italian.

In 1975 KAB introduced its "Clean Community System" which encouraged local communities to prevent litter through a "normative change process" that included education efforts, advertising, local research and mapping of litter "hotspots," and clean up activities. The Clean Community System evolved into KAB's current network of Affiliates - roughly 580 local "Keep MyTown Beautiful" organizations nationwide.

In 1999 KAB introduced the "Great American Cleanup" campaign, where volunteers are organised to clean up litter and illegal dumpsites in their communities, remove graffiti, and beautify by planting trees, flowers and other greenery. In 2007, the event drew 2.8 million volunteers nationwide.Fact|date=May 2008


KAB is best known for the "Crying Indian" public service advertisement (PSA) which launched on Earth Day in 1971. This advertising campaign has been widely credited, including in Frank Lowenstein's "Voices of Protest" with inspiring America's fledgling environmental movement.

KAB was the first organization to bring littering to national attention and made "litterbug” a household word.


Heather Rogers, creator of the documentary film "Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage" and book of the same name, classifies Keep America Beautiful as one of the first greenwashing corporate fronts, created in response to Vermont's 1953 attempt to outlaw disposable containers. The focus on litter, and indeed construction of the modern concept of litter, is seen as an attempt to divert responsibility from industries that rely on disposable and planned obsolescence products to the consumer that improperly disposes of them. [cite web |url= |title=Litterbug World |accessdate=2008-05-20 |author=Ariane Conrad Hyde |date=2005-04-1 |publisher= [ AlterNet] ]

ee also

*Clean Up Australia
*Clean Up the World
*Container deposit legislation
*Keep Britain Tidy
*Recycling in the United States
*Roads Beautifying Association (in the UK)
*Iron Eyes Cody
*TIDY Northern Ireland


External links

* [ Keep America Beautiful]
* [ The Adventures of KAB Man]

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