Equipped with bins and grabber tools, residents of Tempe and the ASU community joined together Saturday morning to pick up litter at Indian Bend Wash. Over the course of two hours, the group picked up over 300 pounds of trash.
The cleanup was organized by Keep Tempe Beautiful, a non-profit, volunteer-run organization founded in February 2021 that has made it its mission to improve recycling, end littering and continue the beautification of Tempe.
Joe Forte, ASU alumnus and executive director and founder, started KTB by encouraging his friends and anyone he ran into to participate in a cleanup. Forte said that the cleanups didn’t start to pick up until last summer, when he connected with an organization called Tempe Young Professionals, which helped them gain volunteers.
“It takes a certain type of person to try something new,” Forte said. “But when they are there with a group, they feel more comfortable and it's a lot easier for them to get exposed to something new.”
Every third Saturday of the month, the organization plans a cleanup at a different Tempe park location, and every fourth Saturday of the month they focus on Tempe Town Lake. With funding from the city of Tempe, Forte said he would like to have cleanups on Sundays and weekdays.
Volunteers attending KTB cleanups are typically given materials to pick up any garbage they find and then put into a bin. At the end of the cleanup, other KTB volunteers sort the garbage into what is trash or what can be recycled.
The organization does more than just park cleanups. KTB also provides garden workshops, tree plantings, team building activities and now also runs the Clark Park Community Garden.
This year, KTB won the Downtown Tempe Authority Environmental Impact award.
“It’s just a great feeling when you come to these KTB events, whether it be a cleanup or outreach event, you’re leaving a place better off than it was when you got there, and it encourages you to keep getting involved,” Paige Brooks, volunteer staff, said.
KTB connects with several ASU clubs and organizations like ASU BLAST and ASU Fraternities and Sororities. On Sept. 10, members of Rotaract Club of ASU participated in a cleanup alongside McClintock Drive and Curry Road.
At the event, KTB, ASU Rotaract and other volunteers cleaned up "734 pounds of trash, 57 pounds of recycling, and .5 pounds of cigarette butts," KTB said in an Instagram post.
Dora Le, senior biomedical science and global health major and president of ASU Rotaract — a service organization that focuses on leadership, local service and international relations — said, one of their goals this year "is to magnify our impact on the environment."
“It is wonderful to see initiative and change made right at our doorstep," Le said. "Their love and passion is clearly evident."
For the future of KTB, Forte said he is working with city elected officials to get funding for the organization. He hopes to expand the efforts of the organization by bringing in full-time staff as they are currently run by volunteers, including Forte himself.
“It started as an initiative to clean up the community of Tempe and it has quickly become a way for people to come together and learn about the value of taking care of our planet,” Brooks said.
Edited by Jasmine Kabiri, Wyatt Myskow and Kristen Apolline Castillo.
Andrea Ramirez is a reporter for the Community and Culture desk at The State Press.