Back in 1971, The Keep America Beautiful organization teamed up with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to create Keep American Beautiful Day.  It was expanded in 1982 to a week, and then to the entire month of April in 1984. As spring takes hold of the weather and the landscape awaken with the greening of trees and grasses, the blooming of wildflowers and the melodies of nesting songbirds, we, too, ought to take special notice of our beautiful environment—and do something to, as they say, keep it beautiful.

A 2021 Keep America Beautiful clean-up team (photo by Ben Nelson)

Keeping America Beautiful was a cause well before 1971, however.  The Keep America Beautiful (KAB) organization began in 1953 in New York City with the goal of preventing litter. It was in the same year as the first Keep America Beautiful Day, that KAB developed one of the most successful public service announcements ever.  It featured a Native American who paddled his canoe down a polluted stream and stopped at a litter-strewn shore.  A passing motorist threw a bag of trash that landed at the Native American’s feet.  At the end, he turned to face the camera and shed a single tear.

One of the leaders of the early drive to beautify America was Lady Bird Johnson, wife of president Lyndon Baines Johnson.  As First Lady during the mid 1960s, she chose beautifying the countryside as one of her key initiatives (learn more about her here).  Her timing couldn’t have been  better, as the late 60s and early 70s was a time of environmental awakening in the U.S. and around the world.

Lady Bird Johnson in 1990 (photo by Frank Wolfe)

Another aspect of keeping the joint beautiful—and sustainable—also traces to April.  The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970.  The brainchild of U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was intended to be a one-off (learn more about him here).  As we all know, Earth Day has occurred every year since then, has expanded to be a global celebration and continues to inspire us to treat the earth better (learn more about Earth Day here).

And it has all been working.  KAB reported in a major review of littering in 2020 that there are 50 billion pieces of litter despoiling our roadsides and riverbanks.  That’s a big number, but they counted carefully—only 6 billion of them are bigger than four inches.  The good news is that the amount of litter is down 54% since their previous 2009 study.  

A 2013 Earth Day celebration in Kobe, Japan (photo by MtiK)

Forget the statistics.  We all know that we want a beautiful world, and that litter is ugly.  So, how about helping to solve the problem.  Remember, every litter bit helps!


Keep America Beautiful.  2020 Litter Study.  Available at:  Accessed March 28, 2923.

National Day Calendar.  Keep America Beautiful Month — April.  Available at:  Accessed March 28, 20o23.

This Month in Conservation

July 1
Duck Stamp Born (1934)
July 2
Morrill Act Created Land-Grant Universities (1862)
July 3
Great Auk Went Extinct (1844)
July 4
Stephen Mather, Founding Director of the National Park Service, Born (1867)
July 5
Yoshimaro Yamashina and Ernst Mayr, Ornithologists, Born (1900, 1904)
July 6
Maria Martin, Naturalist and Artist, Born (1796)
July 7
Alaska Admitted as a State (1958)
July 8
July 9
Starbucks Abandoned Plastic Straws (2018)
July 10
Rainbow Warrior Bombed and sunk (1985)
July 11
World Population Day
July 12
Herbert Zim, Creator of “Golden Guides,” Born (1909)
July 13
Source of the Mississippi River Discovered (1832)
July 14
George Washington Carver National Monument Established (1943)
July 15
Emmeline Pankhurst, British Suffragette Leader, Born (1858)
July 16
UNESCO Added Giant Panda and Shark Sanctuaries to World Heritage List (2006)
July 17
Handel’s “Water Music” Premiered (1717)
July 18
Gilbert White, the “First Ecologist,” Born (1720)
July 19
Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal, Created (1976)
July 20
Gregor Mendel, Pioneering Geneticist, Born (1822)
July 20
Annual “Swan Upping” on the Thames River
July 21
Aswan High Dam Opened (1970)
July 22
Ratcatcher’s Day
July 23
Commercial Whaling Banned (1982)
July 24
Machu Picchu Discovered (1911)
July 25
Jim Corbett, Tiger Conservationist, Born (1875)
July 26
James Lovelock, Originator of the Gaia Theory, Born (1919)
July 27
Przewalski’s horse gave birth by artificial insemination (2013)
July 28
Beatrix Potter, Author and Conservationist, Born (1866)
July 29
International Tiger Day
July 30
Golden Spike National Historical Park Created (1965)
July 31
Curt Gowdy, Sportscaster and Conservationist, Born (1919)
January February March April May June July August September October November December