State, cities planning to do massive cleanup effort in April

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OKLAHOMA CITY - April is known as 'Earth Month,' which is a time to remember to be kind to the environment.

Every year, OKC Beautiful partners with the City of Oklahoma City for a month-long city clean up effort.

"We provide all of the materials, from trash bags to gloves to pickers and everything you need to help make your event successful,” Kristen Milburn, program director with OKC Beautiful, said.

During Oklahoma City's 'LitterBlitz' event last year, volunteers picked up more than 180,000 pounds of trash from city streets.

OKC Beautiful believes cleaning the city is not just aesthetically pleasing, but also financially responsible.

"Cities that are clean are where people want to build businesses. That's where you want to raise your families and we know those things aren't only important to business owners but citizens as well," Milburn said.

It's part of a larger effort called the 'Great American Cleanup,' a three-month long event asking the community to come together and pick up trash.

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful coordinates it and has more than 400 events every year.

In 2017, GAC in Oklahoma collected 4,859,916 pounds of trash. They had 46,383 volunteers, which saves the state $8.4 million in cleanup costs, according to Keep Oklahoma Beautiful.

OKC Beautiful's event is one of them.

"We know that a lot of litter is not intentional. It comes flying out of trash trucks or trailer beds and we know the wind in Oklahoma can get crazy, so it spreads all over the place,” Milburn said.

OKC Beautiful says litter has decreased 61% since the 1960s, but there's still a long way to go.

In fact, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation says it spends $5 million a year picking up trash from the highways and interstates.

"That includes our maintenance crew picking up litter, combined with the volunteer hours that go in to picking up the litter,” said Madeline Miller, with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, said.

One of the biggest culprits?

"A lot of the big issues are debris in the roadway. We get tons of calls on that about debris flying out of truck beds simply because it wasn't strapped down correctly,” Miller said.

That's why the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will also host its 30th annual Trash-Off event on April 21 to help curb litter around the state.

To volunteer, visit the Litterblitz website or call (405) 286-9141.

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