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PR- 076-05
March 1, 2005


20th Anniversary of "Great American Cleanup" Kicks-off in Times Square

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner John J. Doherty today accepted the Clean City Recognition Award from Keep America Beautiful for improving cleanliness and quality of life in New York City.  The Mayor also joined G. Ray Empson, President of Keep America Beautiful, Desiree Sayle, Director of the USA Freedom Corps, actor Tony Danza, and children from PS 51 in the Bronx to kick-off the 20th Anniversary of the Great American Cleanup.  The month-long program cleans-up, greens-up and fixes-up over 15,000 communities in all 50 states. For the entire month of March, more than 2.3 million people will volunteer more than 7 million hours at 30,000 events across the country to keep America clean.

"We learned a long time ago that trash on our streets decays our quality of life," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "In 1975, the first year the City began an independently rating street cleanliness, 71% of New York's streets were deemed to be acceptably clean.  Last year, nearly 90% of our streets were acceptably clean - our highest rating ever. It's a fitting tribute to our City that we are kicking-off the Great American Cleanup in New York. We owe a tremendous thanks to the hard working employees of the Department of Sanitation for the excellent work they do.  Weather it's picking up trash, cleaning or clearing snow from our streets, New York's Strongest help make our City a great place to live."

In the last year, DSNY has launched Operation N.I.C.E (Neighborhood Intensive Cleanup) to strengthen the relationship between DSNY and the communities it serves. By partnering with community based organizations, DSNY has successfully cleaned up garbage-strewn vacant lots and storefronts that have long plagued neighborhoods and make sure property owners keep their sidewalks clean.  DSNY community affairs personnel interact with local communities in English, Chinese, Korean, Yiddish, Russian and Spanish providing shopkeepers and property owners with flyers and information on sanitation regulations and tips on how to increase street cleanliness. DSNY has helped neighborhoods improve their cleanliness by providing technical support, equipment, encouraging and assisting volunteer activities and enrolling thousands of businesses and homeowners in the adopt-a-basket campaign which provides participants with plastic bags to line street litter baskets.  The adopt-a-basket campaign provides local storeowners with trash bags and allows them to empty street baskets by putting the bagged trash curbside.

During last year's Great American Cleanup, 2.3 million volunteers collected 150 million pounds of litter and debris, planted 5 million flowers and bulbs, cleaned 6,500 miles of rivers, lakes and shorelines and collected 1.2 million tires for recycling. 

"The advances New York City has made in cleanliness, beautification and community revitalization are an outstanding achievement," said G. Raymond Empson, president of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. "On behalf of the national Keep America Beautiful organization, I am thrilled to honor New York City as an excellent example of how government and community action partners can work together to reduce litter, improve communities and dramatically improve the quality of life for all."

"Keeping a city the size of New York clean, takes more than the dedicated work of New York's Strongest, It's everybody's responsibility," said Commissioner Doherty. "So, I extend my special thanks to Keep America Beautiful for being Sanitation's invaluable partner in helping us promote volunteer efforts and inspire residents to become involved in improving the city's cleanliness and quality of life."

Keep American Beautiful Inc. established in 1953, is the nation's largest volunteer-based community and education organization.  Partnering with the public and private sector Keep America Beautiful engages individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community environments.   The Great American Cleanup is Keep America Beautiful signature events and volunteers can either take part in planned local activities or start their own activities. For more information, call 311 or visit or


Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-2958

Vito Turso   (Sanitation)
(646) 885-5020

Denise Hawkins (KAB)   (203) 640-1750

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