Longhorns lend a helping hand during citywide cleanup day

Ruben Paquian

With community projects taking place all over Austin this weekend, many students plan on doing their part to help keep Austin beautiful.

Since 1985, local nonprofit Keep Austin Beautiful has organized bimonthly and annual cleanups throughout the Austin area with the hopes of maintaining the communities beauty. This Saturday, the annual “Keep Austin Beautiful Day,” formerly known as “Clean Sweep,” will bring together volunteers from all over Austin to clean up city neighborhoods and parks. With the project happening minutes from campus, many students take the day as an opportunity to give back and rack up volunteer hours. Student org UT Green Greeks, in conjunction with KAB, will host a West Campus cleanup Sunday morning.

Keep Austin Beautiful’s Director of Community Engagement Myrriah Gossett said the event’s name change is to acknowledge the event’s growth and its volunteers who do more than just clean streets. Gossett assured returning volunteers that the new name will not affect the events procedures.

“As the day has continued to grow, we’ve realized that people were doing more than just cleanups, and so we officially rebranded it this year as “Keep Austin Beautiful Day” to recognized all the volunteers for all of the work that they were doing,” Gossett said. “Volunteers can expect the same support and guidance when asked for, as well as supplies that they normally get.”

This year, Gossett said the organization expects about 4,000 volunteers across 110 project locations. For those who want to get in on the cleaning action, the organization’s website has a list of projects that are still looking for helping hands.

“We have some large groups coming from tech companies like Facebook and everyone who’s moved their lovely offices here,” Gossett said. “But it’s also a mix of neighborhoods and neighborhood associations doing great work, too.”

With the help of KAB, UT Green Greeks will host its own West Campus cleanup the next day to close out Keep Austin Beautiful Day. Focusing on educating students on the importance of green habits, Kylee Ward, a civil engineering senior and co-project leader of Green Greeks, said the West Campus cleanup welcomes all students.

“Even if we pick up just a few bags of trash, as long we’re educating more people about recycling and going green that will have an even bigger impact in the long run I think,” Ward said. “Before we give them the equipment to go out, we educate them to make sure you’re avoiding this, to make sure it’s gotta be a certain kind of clean to use your best judgment on if it’s recyclable still.”

Katia Eaton, a sustainability and economics sophomore and Green Greeks co-project leader, said it’s students’ responsibility to be mindful of their impact on the environment of the community. She said the West Campus cleanup is a good way to remind students of this responsibility.

“Because a lot of West Campus is Greek life, it’s really important that we are monitoring the impact that the community has on the area around us” Eaton said. “West Campus in general is mostly students, and so to be able to have a student organization go in and make sure we’re doing our best to be as sustainable as possible and looking after each other and holding each other accountable for the waste that we are producing (is) a really awesome thing that we can be doing.”