Oro Valley is beautiful! In fact, the natural beauty of our community is a point of pride. It is one of the attributes that distinguishes our town as a special place. Even a simple sidewalk looks attractive with such a gorgeous landscape and the majestic Santa Catalinas as its backdrop — until you spot some litter. 

It’s amazing how just a few pieces of litter along a roadway can so easily detract from the natural beauty that surrounds us. Unfortunately, litter often leads to more litter. Conversely, clean promotes clean. Beauty promotes beauty. That’s why, last year, I asked Town staff to help me develop a community beautification day where residents could come together (with COVID safety precautions), and help us keep our roadways as pristine as our views. 

More than 200 youth and adults from my faith community volunteered last October to help with litter pickup. It was such a successful experience that we wanted to broaden this one-day event to a series of events for anyone who wants to make a difference in this way. Working with staff, we developed a program that would make it easy for any community group to participate. In case you didn’t catch the official announcement last week, it is our pleasure to announce the launch of Keep OV Beautiful!

We are passionate about keeping Oro Valley beautiful because litter pick-up doesn’t just make our community look great; it also sets a tone for residents and visitors alike that we care about our community and are grateful for the natural beauty we have inherited. 

We may not fully appreciate that litter and roadside debris can be a safety hazard. For example, it can lead to accidental ingestion of plastics and toxic materials by wildlife. It also creates road and shoulder hazards that can cause property damage or personal injury. There are so many reasons for this community to come together and Keep OV Beautiful.

Litter pickup is an ongoing need, because while personal litter prevention (choosing to dispose of your trash responsibly) helps reduce the amount of roadside trash that accumulates over time, that’s not the only source of litter. Litter is inadvertently generated by open-top trash trucks and spillage when transferring trash into a collection truck. Litter is also generated when personal trash can lids are not secured or trash bags are not tied shut. So even if you may not able to participate in a litter pick-up event, you can still help Keep OV Beautiful by supporting litter prevention.  

Some of you may be wondering how this is different from Oro Valley’s Adopt-A-Roadway program. Great question. All of these programs are designed to keep Oro Valley’s roads, trails and washes looking their best, but they provide different service levels. Adopt-A-Roadway (as well as Adopt-A-Trail and Adopt-A-Wash) are best-suited for individuals, families or groups that want a long-term commitment to a specific stretch of road, trail or wash. The new Keep OV Beautiful program is designed to accommodate small or large groups that want to participate in single-day events throughout the community. These pick-up days could even become a recurring tradition for your group! 

Keep OV Beautiful makes it easy for your group to participate on a day that’s convenient for you. All you need to do is select your volunteer coordinator and have him/her start the registration process by going to www.orovalleyaz.gov and typing KEEP OV BEAUTIFUL in the search bar. Town staff will work with the coordinator to identify a date and location for the litter pick-up. The Town will provide safety vests, pick-up tools and trash bags. Once your pick-up day is complete, the Town will then collect and dispose of all the gathered trash the next business day.

Keep OV Beautiful is a great way for your group or organization to give back to the community we love. Picking up litter is a simple act of service with a tremendous impact, and with this program, it’s now easier than ever. So I personally invite you to join me in this renewed effort to Keep OV Beautiful.

A special note during this COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of Town residents and volunteers is our first priority. As such, participants will be asked to please observe to the appropriate COVID-19 safety precautions as recommended by the Pima County Health Department.

Joe Winfield is mayor of Oro Valley.

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