Happy Keep America Beautiful Day: From Your Backyard Edition

Photo Credit: Grant Cunningham

Along with being the month we celebrate Earth Day, April is also Keep America Beautiful Month! That’s not by accident either. Keep America Beautiful Month is all about beautifying and uniting communities, celebrating spring, and recognizing our connections to nature. 

Our first thought for activities to celebrate Keep America Beautiful Month might relate to land –tending to gardens, planting trees, or tending to our neighborhoods – but the activities we do to beautify our communities on land can also support ocean health. Whether you live on the coasts, in the mountains, or anywhere in between, taking time to pick up trash in our communities can have great benefits for the ocean we all share.

Marine debris is an incredible global challenge and one Keep America Beautiful aims to address across its network of volunteers and partners. With more than 8 million tons (16 billion pounds!) of plastic debris alone making its way into the ocean each year due to runoff from watersheds around the world, ocean dumping, and other activities, any small actions we take to reduce our use of single-use items and prevent trash from ending up in or near our waterways can make a huge difference for our ocean and the animals that call it home. 


Here are a few activities you can do this month to reduce your family and community’s single-use footprint:


    • Challenge yourself to use fewer single-use items in your home. Make it fun by seeing who in your family or neighborhood can use the least this month! 

    • Repurpose single-use items through arts and crafts to beautify your home or your neighborhood. For example, you might turn a two-liter plastic bottle into a colorful planter that lets you see your plants grow or turn glass jars into decorative lights. 

    • Study up on local recycling policies. Learn about plastic labels and what your community does and does not recycle. Learn how to clean soiled items properly before depositing them into the recycling bin. Do your part to understand how we can all make sure recycling is done properly in our communities so recyclable materials don’t accidentally end up in the land fill and non-recyclable materials don’t end up in our recycling stream. 

    • Host a small cleanup. Take some time outside and see who can collect the most garbage from your local park, playground, or other area. Even try it in your backyard with just your family, every little bit counts!

    • Buy and decorate plain reusable bags. Add your own personal touch to a canvas shopping bag with paint or other decorative materials. This way, you have a one-of-a-kind piece of art you’re proud to take to the store and more likely to remember. 

    • Learn about and support nonprofit organizations that remove debris from the ocean all year long. One example is Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys, a program sponsored by The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in partnership with Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and dive operators, all of whom work together to collect and remove trash that found its way to Florida Keys waters and reefs. Learn more and support Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys here.


Show us how you’re Keeping America Beautiful by sending us your activities and photos to info@marinesanctuary.org!