A city ordinance passed under Mayor Jim McConn in 1977 created the Houston Clean City Commission. By 1979, the Commission’s Clean Houston program formed as a non-profit organization funded by the private sector. Operating as the d.b.a. for the Commission, Keep Houston Beautiful (KHB) became the local affiliate of Keep American Beautiful to promote a mission of education, personal responsibility, and community collaboration for a clean and beautiful Houston.
Teaching urban environmental awareness was an early of part of KHB’s mission. KHB developed and distributed guidelines for recycling, composting, and planting for beautification in public and private places. Workshop topics included strategies to stop illegal dumping and organize neighborhood cleanup campaigns. KHB offered ideas for classroom activities to Houston teachers at in-service training sessions. For example, the Junior Composter activity guide help students explore the characteristics of soil and the role of composting in soil enhancement.
Sponsoring events such as the Little Kids’ Litter Party helped children learn the role of personal responsibility in littering and trash disposal. At such events, children participate in the event at the Houston International Festival or other venues. Children enjoy music and instruction on avoiding being a Litter Bugs. A truly collaborative event, the Litter Party draws support from schools, City of Houston departments, television stations, and corporations.
KHBs cleanup campaigns lead to beautified neighborhoods and civic pride. Keep Houston Beautiful Day, celebrated each spring, promotes citywide cleanups, organized around collaborative efforts, distribution of prize premiums, and celebrity participation. From its beginnings, more than thirty years ago, KHB worked to raise awareness on the premise that enhancing Houston’s environment creates measurable economic impact for all segments of the Houston area. Civic beautification, as encouraged by KHB, is about pretty trees and flowers but also the development of personal and community responsibility in the maintenance of a clean, healthy, and successful city.