Leveraging Community Clean Ups to Increase Your Property Values

By Renee Mallett

In all of today’s environmental green initiatives, “litter seems to be getting left out of the messages” per Rob Wallace, Vice President of Communications for Keep America Beautiful (KAB).  Litter invites litter and impacts our quality of life, economic development and environment.  Research shows a pristine landscape and well cared for neighborhood deters litter.  Moreover, a green neighborhood, one that is full of trees, flowers and green space, positively impacts the physiological stress, health and safety of its residents, both young and old.

There are many indirect costs that litter imposes upon the homeowner.  Per Keep America Beautiful, “93% of homeowners say a littered neighborhood would decrease their assessment of a home’s value and influences their decision to purchase a property. And 40% estimated that litter would reduce a home’s value by 10% to 24%”.1    Yikes, litter not only trashes the neighborhood but pulls down the value of your home.  Moreover, litter may lead to crime.  James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling introduced the broken windows theory.2 The authors write, “Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars”.

The Keep America Beautiful® Great American Cleanup® is America’s largest community enhancement program, which occurs yearly in Spring and in conjunction with Earth Week.3  Keep America Beautiful has a CleanYOURBlock one-page guide that provides step by step guidance in hosting a Neighborhood Green, Clean Up Block Party, whether its planting trees and flowers in your neighborhood, maintaining your curb appeal or collecting litter. Make Gahanna Yours has collaborated with the City of Gahanna in a new Geographic Information System (GIS) Map to select an Adopt an Area litter cleanup site.  Make Gahanna Yours will provide free gloves, safety vests, litter grabbers and trash bags and the City of Gahanna will pick up the collected bags of litter.  Just think what fun pre and post photos you and your family, friends and neighbors could capture.  More information will be available about the new map and ability to sign up in the near future.

You do not have to wait for Spring to make a difference. Fall is the perfect time to plant trees and perennials and re-seed your law.  The Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District offers native trees and plants at a discount and per their community backyard conservation program, homeowners are eligible for a $50 rebate for purchase of an Ohio tree, perennials, rain barrel or compost.  This conservation program is designed to educate the public on green initiatives such as water conservation, minimizing stormwater runoff and pollution, providing wildlife habitat, and improving soil health and landscaping aesthetics. The Arbor Day Organization has many wonderful resources on the ecological and health benefits of trees.4

MGY was awarded an Ohio EPA grant for litter prevention and city beautification efforts.  As part of this grant, five environmental sculptures will be placed in five selected Gahanna parks to educate the community of the effects of litter.  You may volunteer at www.makegahannayours.com.  More details to come regarding the Ohio EPA grant, please mark your calendar and help us become a litter free community.

Current scheduled events:

Make Gahanna Yours (MGY) will be hosting a fall litter clean up event on Saturday, October 26 from ten to noon.  The event will kickoff at Friendship Park at 10:00 AM with a group picture and will conclude at 12:00 PM back at Friendship Park.

In addition to the litter clean up event there will be a dedication of the art sculptures depicting native wildlife and the importance of managing litter in the community.


  1. https://www.kab.org/sites/default/files/News%26Info_Research_LitterinAmerica_FactSheet_CostsofLittering.pdf
  2. Kelling, George; Coles, Catherine (1997), Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities, ISBN978-0-684-83738-3 .
  3. https://www.kab.org/great-american-cleanup/great-american-cleanup-2019
  4. https://www.arborday.org/