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26,400 Cigarette Butts Cleaned Up on Duke Campus!

Our 18 volunteers on the quickly warming morning of July 14  were mostly from the organization Duke Live for Life. While Duke Hospital is a tobacco free campus, there is still an issue of cigarette butt litter. 

People often believe that cigarette butts are biodegradable because of their paper-like appearance. Many cigarette butts and filters are synthetic and take up to 10 years to decompose! In the mean time, animals find the scent of tobacco to be tantalizing and ingest the cigarette butts. Eventually, they can die of starvation due to the quantity of cigarette butts in their stomachs. This is a misconception one of our volunteers, Trisha, acknowledged when she said, "When a  ranger at the Eno River told me he couldn't give a littering ticket for cigarette butts, I thought that was insane. That's when I realized what a problem it was. I don't think there's any reason to be too busy to come out here and help. I really do think I'm making a difference."

This choice to come out for just two hours resulted in 26,400 cigarette butts cleaned up!! We interacted with people who are smokers and they were appreciative when we offered them portable ash trays. One police officer said she typically saves her cigarette butts until she sees the next ash trays or trash can, so the portable ash trays would help her with this mission. Another man visiting the hospital was happy to receive one because "you have to respect the space and people around you" and tries to show that respect by not littering cigarette butts.

Thanks to our volunteers who came out check out more pictures in our Flickr album.

Meet Joseph!

We are happy to announce that we have a new board member!

Joseph has a great deal of academic and professional experience in meteorology and currently works at the EPA. He obtained his doctorate degree last year from St. Louis University in Meteorology. His work has focused on air quality, atmospheric chemistry, and modeling with an emphasis on pollution, biomass burning, and urban/regional variability. We are excited to have someone with such a knowledge base to join our team.

Joseph joined Keep Durham Beautiful to be more than just a volunteer; he wants to have a larger reach to make the positive changes he sees KDB enacting. He is particularly interested and enthusiastic about building pollinator gardens as he has had experience with research gardens and loves the positive impact gardens can have on the community. Joseph values the idea of bringing residents, businesses, and community organizations together to work on the mission of improving the community.

Pollinator Plant Giveaway!

Love plants? Love your local pollinators? We have a pop-up plant give away where you can get a pollinator plant! 

This will take place Saturday, August 12th from 9am-1pm!

Location is to be announced so make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to find out where you can get a lovely pollinator plant.

Check out our previous blog post on pollinator plants with medicinal benefits and start making your own pollinator garden!

Get Involved:

FREE Documentary Screening - August 5th

Join us at Durham Central Park this coming Saturday for a free screening of the documentary Inside the Garbage of the World! This documentary features the effects of single use plastic on the earth! 

We have two amazing food trucks, Belgian Waffle Crafters and Lost Boys, Co., to help fill your tummy. Our partners Don't Waste Durham will share our mission of reducing waste in Durham, especially plastic waste. Finally, Food FWD will be there helping us compost!

Grab your friends and set up a blanket, eat some snacks, and get eco-conscious with us!

Bees & Brews - August 12th

Do you love bees? Love learning how to make things or DIY projects? Love local beer? Join us at Durty Bull Brewery on Saturday, August 12th at 5pm to construct Bee Hotels!

Tickets ($25) includes all the materials for your very own bee hotel and one free beer! A percentage of all additional sales will be donated to Keep Durham Beautiful. 21+ and preregister to attend.

Pick up with Pups Litter Cleanup - August 13th

We are so excited to partner with Animal Protection Services of Durham to host this event. Meet us at the Duke East Campus Wall Trail and walk with some adoptable pups while cleaning up litter left behind.

Spend just a few hours with us to walk a pup, pick up litter and transform the area; maybe you will find a new furry friend whose life you can transform! If you aren't able to join us on Sunday, check out the APS Amazon wish list!

Geer Cemetery Clean up - September 22nd

This cemetery holds a great deal of history and is in need of help. Join us and students from Durham Tech to preserve and maintain this very special resting ground. To learn more about its history, visit Friends of Geer Cemetery. We will provide tools and a meaningful community service opportunity.

Durham's Monarch Festival - October 14th

Celebrate the amazing journey of the Monarch butterfly! There will be music, educational booths, food and fun for all ages. The Durham Monarch Festival at Sandy Creek Park takes place at a certified waystation for Monarch butterflies as they migrate to Mexico. The park features milkweed, nectar sources and shelter that help sustain Monarchs on their long journey.

Find more information on our website!


Reuse Rodeo - October 21st

We are excited to host this event again with our partners City of Durham Solid Waste Management and Durham County Waste Management! We will be partnering with nonprofits to create a "one stop drop" event where anything you no longer have use for can be repurposed. 

You can donate clothes, books, furniture, housewares, baby supplies, art supplies, etc. There will also be E-waste recycling and paper shredding! 

Recent News with Keep Durham Beautiful

Durham's First Ever Sustainability Report!

Durham released its Sustainability Report this past month! This report's purpose is to communicate the effects of the numerous sustainability programs that have been put into place since the 1980s. This report was compiled by the City's General Services Department and City/County Sustainability Office.

Highlights include:
  • Durham has seen a 7 percent decrease in residential greenhouse gas emissions since 2008, despite the population growing 10 percent during this time.

  •   Durham has the second oldest park system in North Carolina with 50 percent of residents living within 1⁄2 mile of a park.

  •   Durham residents use 23 percent less water than the average North Carolinian in large part due to City-led water conservation programs focused on customer awareness, water- efficiency devices and fixtures and programmatic incentives.

  •   A recent tree canopy study found that Durham has a 52 percent tree canopy and has planted over 3,000 trees since 2014.

  •   City buildings are 13 percent more energy efficient today than they were in 2009 due to lighting upgrades, replacing old heating and air conditioning units, and adding automatic controls on systems to turn off when not in use.

  •   A commitment to providing diverse transportation choices for residents, including biking, walking and public transportation options, has resulted in increases in bus services, 575 miles of sidewalk, and 40 miles of bike lanes.

    Learn more about the efforts towards our #sustainabullcity by reading the report. IndyWeek also published an article about these findings! 

    Let us know what you think by using the hashtag #sustainabullcity

Oracle + Bronto at George Watts Montessori Elementary

Thanks to volunteers from Oracle + Bronto for helping us beautify George Watts Montessori Elementary School! The summer heat and sun didn't hold them back from helping weed and garden in the school's edible plant garden!
See more pictures here!


We want to know what kind of volunteering you are interested in and when it works for you! Check your email in the next few weeks for our survey with a chance to win an amazing LOCAL prize!
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