Akron Resident Aims to Remove 1 Million Pieces of Trash from City Streets!

UPDATE: March 25, 2024

It’s been almost a year since Keep America Beautiful® last spoke with Akron local Debbie Miller about her initiative to tidy up her city. Debbie provided an update over the past weekend, revealing that she has successfully cleared over 500,000 pieces of litter since embarking on her endeavor. With a goal of reaching a million, Debbie aims to leave her community cleaner and safer for all its residents.

In recognition of her dedication, News 5 Cleveland, a local news station in Cleveland, Ohio, conducted an interview with Debbie Miller, spotlighting her tireless efforts and rallying others to participate in this vital mission.

STAMFORD, Conn. (July 14, 2023) Keep America Beautiful® is proud to celebrate Debbie Miller, a dedicated volunteer with Keep Akron Beautiful. Debbie has successfully achieved an extraordinary milestone in her mission to preserve Akron’s beauty.  

In just five months, Debbie has personally collected over 152,000 pieces of litter. This accomplishment is highly significant based on the Keep America Beautiful® 2020 National Litter Study. The in-depth study determined there’s an average of 152 pieces of litter for every American. Meaning, Debbie’s efforts in litter pick-up assumed the share of 1,000 individuals (or .5% of the total population of Akron!). 

“What she’s is doing is really impacting our community,” said Ward 7 City of Akron Councilman and longtime support of Keep Akron Beautiful, Donnie Kammer. “It’s really inspiring that someone would take it upon themselves to go out in their spare time and clean up trash.” 

Armed with determination and a deep love for Akron, Debbie took it upon herself to tackle the litter problem that plagues many cities across the nation. But with every journey, there is a starting point. For Debbie, it all began while on a walk with her dogs. 

“My dog cut his nose on a piece of glass just a block from my house, and he was hurt badly,” said Debbie. “I called the city and said, there’s broken glass and trash all over Firestone Park. They said, we know we have a trash problem, we are not sure how to fix it.”  

I’ve never been a volunteer before.  I have a wonderful job and don’t need the money.  It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Debbie Miller

Keep Akron Beautiful Volunteer

Recognizing the need for change, Debbie took it upon herself to contribute by picking up litter throughout her neighborhood, including the areas where she walks her dogs. Witnessing the remarkable transformation and unsatisfied with stopping there, she continued her efforts relentlessly until she had cleaned all 74 streets in Firestone Park. 

Keep Akron Beautiful’s Litter Reduction Program removed 113.05 tons of litter and illegal dumping in 2022, but litter is still a big problem for the City of Akron. “Over the last year and a half, we’ve been preaching the message that Akron has a major litter problem,” said Keep Akron Beautiful Executive Director Jacqui Ricchiuti. “We’re trying to work on a program where we can encourage Akron’s residents to help us do what she (Debbie) is doing.” 

Debbie’s achievement is a testament to the fact that cleaning one street can make a difference in the world. When we think globally and act locally, we come to understand that even seemingly small actions like this can have a significant impact on the overall well-being of our planet. 

“This movement is built on the care, concern, and action of people who want their communities to be better and more beautiful,” said Jennifer Lawson, President and CEO of Keep America Beautiful®.

“She has demonstrated her pride in Akron through her actions, and we could not be prouder.” 

Jeniffer Lawson

President and CEO, Keep America Beautiful

The entire staff at Keep America Beautiful® congratulates Debbie on her accomplishments and her mission to make Akron a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful place to live. 

To learn how you can make a difference no matter where you are – click HERE to help Keep America Beautiful®. 

About Keep Akron Beautiful 

Keep Akron Beautiful is a 501(c) (3) agency celebrating 42 years of serving the citizens of Akron by improving Akron’s quality of life through beautification and responsible environmental management. Keep Akron Beautiful engages thousands of volunteers each year to remove litter, plant and maintain beautification sites, and improve the community. For additional program information, visit www.keepakronbeautiful.org or join us on Facebook or Instagram.   

About Keep America Beautiful®:

Keep America Beautiful®, the nation’s leading community improvement nonprofit organization, inspires and educates people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. Established in 1953, Keep America Beautiful® strives to End Littering, Improve Recycling, and Beautify America’s Communities. We believe everyone has a right to live in a clean, green, and beautiful community, and shares a responsibility to contribute to that vision. The organization is driven by the work and passion of 700 Keep America Beautiful® affiliates, millions of volunteers, and the collaborative support of corporate partners, social and civic service organizations, academia, municipalities, elected officials, and individuals. Join us on FacebookInstagramTwitterLinkedin, and YouTubeDonate and take action at kab.org.


McCall Vrydaghs

Keep America Beautiful®