No doubt, Hall County is beautiful.
One can sit and enjoy the sunset at one of the many parks at Lake Lanier. Or move over to Lanier Point to watch a softball game.
Inspect the restored railroad station in Flowery Branch. Drive past peach and apple orchards in Lula, stop downtown for a coffee and watch the trains go by.
Practice rowboat skills at Clarks Bridge Landing. Hunt for antiques in historic Clermont. And of course, check out the great variety of food and goods available on the square in downtown Gainesville.
All these beautiful locations don’t remain attractive unless someone keeps them so.
Keep Hall Beautiful is a nonprofit organization, affiliated with Keep Georgia Beautiful, which in turn is connected with Keep America Beautiful.
“Our name tells exactly what our purpose is,” said Kelly Norman, executive director of KHB. “A top priority in keeping a place attractive is to remove litter, but also to educate people about how to properly dispose of it. We’re working closely with the Hall County Green Alliance to accomplish those goals.”
There always seems to be enough litter to pick up. KHB organizes regular cleanups, usually on the second or fourth Saturday each month.
Because Hall County has so many miles of shoreline, trash that washes up is the most common occurrence.
“Styrofoam breaking away from boat docks is a frequent item,” Norman said. “But we also find TV sets, lots of tires, and refrigerators. On roadside cleanups, the most common find are alcohol containers and snack food boxes and bags.”
Some, like Styrofoam coffee cups, aren’t biodegradeable, so without the work of the volunteers they would be a permanent eyesore.
“It’s a great way to meet like-minded people at those cleanups, maybe even your own neighbors,” Norman added.
Her pet peeve is cigarette butts, thrown out of car windows, or entire ashtrays emptied at intersections. Cigarette filters are nondegradeable also. When thrown in the lake, fish can confuse them with food and get ill after swallowing them.
Frequently, fingers are pointed at big industry when it comes to pollution. But in the experience of the KHB volunteers, it’s individual dumping that makes their monthly gatherings necessary.
“All actions have an impact, collectively and cumulatively,” Norman says.
Luckily, besides the cumulative effect of littering, there’s the beneficial one of Keep Hall Beautiful (www.keephallbeautiful.org).
Rudi Kiefer, Ph.D., is a professor of physical science and director of sustainability at Brenau University.