31st Anniversary of Keeping NC Beautiful

Home is more than just an address, a physical place to build memories with family. The definition expands beyond our neighborhoods and communities to historical places like Kitty Hawk and down the Cape Fear River to Bald Head Island, stretching from cities and mountain paths to Cherokee and pointing northeast to Hanging Rock State Park. No matter whether we travel near or far, we are always home among our Frazier firs and flowering dogwoods, loggerhead turtles and elk herds. Our flora and fauna rest in our protection. It sounds like a job belonging to interest groups and other communities; yet, keeping North Carolina beautiful rests in our hands every day of the year.


In 1984, the North Carolina Department of Transportation sought to reduce litter while supporting the efforts of “Keep America Beautiful” in each statewide community. One year later, the motto “Keep North Carolina Beautiful” [KNCB] was established. The motto may appear in the form of a sign along highways and in city limits, yet we are constantly reminded of the beauty our state contains. It is noticeable when one city or town has abundant trees or flower beds, and the roads or pathways are clean. Yes, today, the organization of KNCB services 33 out of 100 counties in our state, and the number is ever growing.

Grassroots Organization

While beautification, recycling, and anti-litter programs are significant to the mission, KNCB is largely a grassroots organization. Volunteers arrive at organized events to merely lend a helping hand. It is through word of mouth and people who desire to “Keep North Carolina Beautiful” that an organization such as KNCB continues to thrive. With the tremendous support of over 720 volunteers in Winston-Salem last year, 14,000 pounds of trash was removed from our streets, parks, schools, and creeks. Organizations, troops, clubs, and businesses have logged significant hours to collect litter; as a result of manpower and a belief in beautification, our community has saved tax dollars. Help is always needed, especially to anyone who wishes to adopt a street, a stream, a park, or a flower bed.  

Upcoming Events

If you are interested in participating, there are wonderful educational activities including a wide-range of cleaning and planting efforts in our state throughout the year. Check out keepncbeautiful.org and kwsb.cityofws.org. Sign up is required.

Programs Include:

The Great American Cleanup in Winston-Salem (March)

Forsyth County Creek Week, focused on waterways (April)

In area public schools, the “Clean and Green Awards” (spring)

The Annual Flower Bed Program (winners announced in spring)

The Big Sweep waterway cleanup (October 1, 2016)

Community Roots Day, annual tree planting event (October 15, 2016)

Annual Flower Bulb Distribution (canceled event, 2016)

The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (ongoing)

Economic Problems of Litter

We often look at trash and despise its appearance in ditches or along the street. More than likely, the trash we found was one of three items: a snack wrapper, a beverage container, or a cigarette butt. It we cannot take personal responsibility for it, a greater force will carry it away: the winds. One study determined 18 percent of litter will end up in a waterway such as a river, stream, or ocean. The most toxic elements, cadmium, lead, and arsenic, are found in cigarette butts. Just imagine these particular elements poisoning our waterways for 12 years (the time it takes for a butt to decompose). The burden of a litter cleanup usually falls on our state’s Department of Transportation; however, through great organizations such as Keep North Carolina Beautiful, individual communities are making great strides in education and creating safer environments while improving community aesthetics. Our state cannot stay beautiful without assistance. From small efforts to community sponsored events, maintaining the natural beauty of our state requires everyone’s help.