Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) has named Keep Orange County Beautiful (KOCB) as their August affiliate of the month and will highlight their story on their website, social media, and newsletter. The Affiliate of the Month Campaign highlights the stories of their affiliates; hard-working, boots on the ground organizations, who are committed to keeping their communities clean and beautiful. Orange County was one of many affiliates affected by COVID-19. They were able to pivot and continue to be a resource to their community in these uncertain times.
Keep Texas Beautiful noted that the following KOCB programs were the impetus for the award:
Hometown Beautification Heroes
When quarantine happened, KOCB’s normal mode of operation abruptly came to a halt. No more face-to-face and group meetings.
KTB looked first to our natural environment and began bringing attention to our natural resources. Keep Orange County Beautiful highlighted opened parks and nature trails with beautification awards and reminded people that spending time outdoors has a replenishing effect on emotions, memory, and well-being while reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and stress.
KOCB also highlighted individuals caught doing random acts of “beautification kindness” in public spaces and called them our “Hometown Beautification Heroes.”
After participating in trash-offs for decades, a fellow board member warmly started referring to us as “Trashy Ladies!”
Another gifted board member quickly designed a “Trashy Ladies” logo. This logo promoting recycling has become a highly recognizable and very effective tool in spreading the recycling word. It has garnered over 5000 likes on the Keep Orange County Beautiful Face book page.
Recycling and Beyond
Waste Management abruptly closed Orange County’s only recycling collection site last August. This was devastating to devoted recyclers!
KOCB’s Directors immediately researched and located RECYCLOPS, a recycling company from Utah that caters to small and rural communities. An initial 300 household signups of $10 a month brought Recyclops to Orange County. This was quickly accomplished through Facebook, and by October 2019 we had curbside pick up twice a month.
Keep Orange County Beautiful was first to recruit Recyclops to Texas. Their success here is spreading to other communities. It is now our intention to increase our recycling household numbers throughout the county and BEYOND.
Our Recycling success story has allowed our community to transition from a “drive to drop off” site to “curbside pick up” within 3 months.
One thousand abandoned tires were collected in one day and 10,000 pounds of scrap metal removed for recycling. Keep Orange County Beautiful, and city municipalities, together with funding through Southeast Texas Resource Conservation and Development (SETX RC&D) working together made that happen.
Building community partnerships is what KOCB is all about. We are a small board of five (5) directors each with our own unique skill set and passion. Drainage ditches, roadways, waterways, frontage roads, and backyards all benefit from the leadership exhibited by KOCB.
Wonderful news in February! Keep Orange County Beautiful was selected by Keep America Beautiful to implement a generous grant funded by an American multinational chemical corporation with operations here in Orange County Texas. The grant is to be used specifically for recycling.
The original grant was to be implemented with educational recycling programs in a Symposium style group setting. Then COVID happened and we were forced to change our trajectory on all fronts by the pandemic. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, the pandemic has allowed us additional processing time. In re-focusing, we discovered an overabundance of opportunities in the recycling realm.
A New Mindset
Research brought Keep Orange County Beautiful to the potential for bringing professional certification courses for Recycling and Sustainable Materials Management to Southeast Texas and perhaps the entire State of Texas.
Circular Economy, a business/environmental movement has been around for five years and has quietly been embraced by industry, most especially the Process Industry that dominates this part of the United States. Keep Orange County Beautiful expects to have some announcements on this new mindset before the end of Q3-2020.