Keeping Kansas City Beautiful

Fraternity inspired by UMKC's commitment to sustainability

A walk through the UMKC campus reveals several sustainable projects, such as an environmentally-friendly New Student Union, Miller Nichols Library green roof, Sustainability minor, community garden and the Swinney Recreation Center/Clean Commute bicycle program – introduced to UMKC by Kansas City, Mo.-based Bridging the Gap.  

Inspired by UMKC’s commitment to sustainability, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity volunteered for Bridging the Gap’s Keep Kansas City Beautiful Litter Index. Designed by Keep America Beautiful, the Litter Index measures the amount of visible litter in a community to evaluate and guide litter prevention efforts. The Litter Index divides Kansas City, Mo. neighborhoods into 34 clusters, and litter is measured on a scale of one to four – one indicating no litter and four indicating extreme litter and illegal dumping.

“I thought it would be a fun event for all of us to participate in,” said Ryan Braam, SAE philanthropy chairman and junior political science major in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. “For this project, I wanted all of our members to participate and have fun while also providing a helpful service. And I really think that both were accomplished during the index.”

After completing a Bridging the Gap training program, fraternity members ventured out in trucks bedecked with Keep America Beautiful magnets.

Studying the streets and sidewalks near Kansas City International Airport, fraternity members noticed litter they may have overlooked on any other day. They saw typical litter, such as paper and bags. And they noticed atypical litter, such as an abandoned car.

The final statistics for the 2010 litter index are not yet available, but 2009 boasted the lowest numbers in the Kansas City index’s 10-year history. In addition to receiving help from UMKC’s SAE chapter, the litter index is assisted by UMKC’s Center for Economic Information, which evaluates litter statistics.

Posted: August 9, 2010

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"For this project, I wanted all of our members to participate and have fun, while also providing a helpful service."

Ryan Braam
Junior Political Science major and SAE philanthropy chairman