Trash

Trash overflows from a receptacle in November near Dollar Tree and Ross in Maricopa.

MARICOPA — A new “Keep Maricopa Beautiful” campaign was launched by city officials this month in an effort to help combat trash and dumping within the city while also providing new opportunities for volunteers.

The program was started, in part, to put a stop to common litter areas outside local businesses.

“We started noticing that there was an overflow of trash happening in some of our business areas and we’re like, ‘We’re Maricopa, we’re beautiful, and we should do everything in our part to maintain it that way,’” said organizer Judy Ramos, neighborhood services manager for the city of Maricopa.

A photo of an overflowing trash can in Maricopa went viral on Facebook in November after resident Ellie Whitaker posted the photo with the partial caption, “I’m pretty sure that we’re better (than) this.”

Located on the sidewalk between Ross and Dollar Tree, the receptacle is well known in the community for overflowing — with the ground around the trash can often littered with debris.

Residents in the comments of the post chimed in, with one person adding, “I’ve lived here 4 years, I’ve never (seen) this trash can empty and not overflowing.”

The new Keep Maricopa Beautiful campaign will focus on multiple ways to reach the common goal of a cleaner city, including education on proper trash disposal, prevention of dumping and trash pickup through volunteer efforts.

“Maricopa is one of the fastest growing cities in the Valley and when you grow that quickly, little things can fall through the cracks — like litter,” Ramos joked. “We should want to live in a clean city and so by helping develop good habits and throwing our stuff away in the trash can, that will inspire others to do so.”

Though the pandemic has postponed a long-term goal of a city-wide volunteer effort to pick up trash, Ramos said there will still be opportunities for those interested in volunteering. Many teens in the community need volunteer hours, and Ramos hopes this campaign will provide a new opportunity for kids to get involved early and create good habits.

Those who volunteer to pick up trash can use the hashtag #KMB to post photos of their cleanups or submit their photos to KMB@maricopa-az.gov.

“Employees will also be doing their part as well,” Ramos said. “Occasionally you will see employees come out once a month, maybe one or two or a few — whoever’s interested in participating.”

Part of maintaining a clean space is the prevention of trash build-up, and the city hopes to address that through education of the public. Ramos said the campaign will help to educate volunteers, business owners and their patrons about the best way to dispose of trash and maintain a clean environment for everyone to enjoy.

Another issue the campaign hopes to address is dumping, where individuals discard anything from construction materials and landscaping debris to trash and car parts in an empty area or on the roadside. Dumping is illegal and is a nuisance for the owners of the land.

If a community member sees someone dumping large amounts of debris or trash, Ramos urges them to immediately call the Maricopa Police non-emergency line at 520-316-6800 and report it, as it is a violation.

If someone is experiencing repeated dumping issues on their property, they can also report it at maricopavipportal.com or by calling the city’s code enforcement division at 520-316-6922. The program will expand on these existing services to help better prevent dumping and support land owners.

“We also are starting to work with individuals to do their part and work with code enforcement to put up ‘no trespassing’ signs, ‘no littering’ signs, in areas where whoever is continually dumping in their area,” Ramos said.

Ramos hopes that, through the Keep Maricopa Beautiful initiative, residents can create a cleaner, brighter future for the city.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to say that we live in the cleanest city in the Valley?” Ramos said. “That’s what really inspired this. We have a rich history, we have amazing views, we have an economy that has an amazing future, so we don’t want to lose sight of what we have — and just keep it beautiful.”

Visit the new website for the initiative at keepmaricopabeautiful.com for more information.

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Katie Sawyer covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at ksawyer@pinalcentral.com.