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Great American Clean up
Posted December 7, 2017 | 8:25 AM

Litter Effort Goes a Long Way

County-backed collection program puts trash in its place

It's a great time to soak up fresh air, get some sunshine, and pick up litter.

Pick up litter?

Hillsborough County Solid Waste has partnered with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful to encourage residents to help improve their communities by collecting scattered trash. Its Adoptions Program is one such initiative.

Solid Waste has coordinated with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful to advance the County's litter prevention and recycling initiatives, which encourage beautification and education, including the Adoptions Program and volunteer cleanups.

Individuals and groups participating in the adoptions effort pick up litter at a specific location at least four times a year. Programs include Adopt-A-Road, Adopt A-Spot (school campuses, bus stops, and neighborhoods), Adopt-A-Park, and Adopt-A-Shoreline. Just about any location will do, as long as no other group is patrolling it. A map on the website shows what areas are taken.

The Brandon branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of Florida has picked up litter along Oakfield Drive for 20 years. The group was patrolling a 1-mile stretch of the road when members saw a building for lease. It became the Society's first center in Brandon. "We would not be where we are today, literally, if not for Adopt-A-Road," says Joe Amodei, the branch leader.

The volunteer effort fits nicely with the Society's commitment to helping others, among its other tenets. Members have gathered discarded paper and plastic items, car parts, bottles and cans, nails and screws, and even chicken bones - "Somebody just threw their lunch out of the window," Joe says.

In 2016, almost 300 groups in Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful's Adoptions Program collected about 189,300 pounds of trash and 2,900 pounds of recyclables in Hillsborough County. Doing so made the County look better, and kept the refuse from entering storm drains and waterways.

It also can give volunteers who pick up the discards a sense of well-being. "We're all connected not only to each other, but to the Earth," Joe says. "When you take care of it, you're really taking care of yourself - and each other."

If you're not ready to adopt a road or other space, there are alternatives. Visit the Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful site to learn about their other programs and events, such as Trees for Tampa Bay, the Great American Cleanup, and Hillsborough Trash Free Waters.

Photo Information: Joe Amodei and Linda Bailey stand beside the Taoist Tai Chi Society's Adopt-A-Road sign in Brandon.

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