Saturday's with Shavara

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”- Henry David Thoreau


Happy Valentine’s Day week green friends! I wanted to do something a little special in the name of love … love for the earth that is, so I have taken a jump from my typical Saturday spot by bringing you something to think about as we approach Valentine’s Day this Thursday. The above quote sums up my desire for all of us to love the earth just as much as anyone or anything else on a day about love. There is much that I have discovered about the environmental impact of one of America’s favorite holidays, but along with that discovery I have also found many ways to celebrate this majestic day in a more environmentally responsible way.  


I want to start with a few facts about Valentine’s Day that peaked my interest, the first being that the practice of passing out Valentines is a 600-year-old tradition, the oldest on record was a poem written by Charles Duke of Orelans that he wrote to his wife in 1415. Now to me that sounds like a long time and a LOT of paper. I bet some of you are wondering, “well just how much paper is being used compared to other holidays?” Let me help make more sense of how many cards on average per year this equates to: roughly 144 million cards are exchanged every year according to Hallmark, those cards laid end to end would stretch around the world 5 times woah. Valentine’s Day cards sent out account for the second largest card-sending holiday falling second only to Christmas cards, which is 25% of the total seasonal cards market. 


I don’t want to take the joy of giving cards, so consider that instead of buying a traditional card making one. If creativity really isn’t your thing you can also purchase cards made out of recyclable paper or send an e-card. The truth of the matter is the pulp & paper industry is a huge contributor to the carbon-dioxide emitted and water resources used, and let’s not even get into how many trees the card production industry cuts down to make all of these cards. If you’re anything like me you stare lovingly at your card for a few days, and then it ends up either in a drawer never to see the light of day or discreetly tossed in next week’s trash.


Now that I’ve had my little rain cloud moment with traditional Valentine’s Day cards, I unfortunately have to be the bearer of more bad news, which is the harm in purchasing fresh, but likely imported flowers. I know, I know I truly seem to be taking all the fun and ease out of the holiday, but it’s for a good cause to inspire change. Fresh flowers are purchased on Valentine’s Day more than any other holiday, with roses being the most popular; according to the American Greetings Corporation. This can be dangerous because the flower industry has a very loose regulatory status because flowers are not an “edible” crop, therefore they are exempt from regulations on pesticide residue. 


Imagine here you are trying to give this beautiful expression of love and turns out it just a giant bouquet of pesticide ridden roses


The transportation of these roses from other countries also come with a high environmental price tag of emissions that vehicles produce to get the flowers into the commercial market at the volume sold on Valentine’s Day. There are ways to off- set this, some of which would be to shop at local farmers markets for flowers grown in season and native to the state that you live in or try your hand at a potted plant and help your loved one tap into their inner green thumb. If you want to mix an activity in the form of a gift, set up a tree planting date to celebrate your love for the earth as well as your love for your special someone. 


All in all Americans spend $8 billion dollars eating out on Valentine’s Day, so I challenge you this year to circulate those dollars in your own community by eating local, or preparing a romantic dinner at home. You can take your new-found green Valentine’s Day mojo and cut the amount of electricity you use by having a candle lit night with an electronic free night.


 The sentiment behind the holiday doesn’t have to be lost simply because you are more environmentally aware, if anything it should strengthen the real meaning of the day; emitting nothing but love and kindness through all actions including those done to protect the planet. I leave you all to responsibly enjoy your holiday with my typical reminder to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!



KOB’s very own blogger,


Shavara J.



Announcing 2019 DEQ Environmental Beautification Grant Winners! Eight Winners located across Oklahoma!

Oklahoma City, Okla. - Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB) together with Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has announced 2019 Environmental Beautification Grant recipients totaling up to $23,000 to eight KOB affiliates. 

"Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is thankful to our sponsoring agency DEQ for making these grants possible to our affiliate network,” Jeanette Nance, Executive Director, KOB said. “We appreciate the good works of our partnering communities and the ability to fund such worthwhile projects is key to keeping Oklahoma a beautiful, healthy, sustainable place to live and thrive."

KOB Environmental Beautification grants are awarded through an application process open to KOB affiliates who propose environmental beatification projects to be completed within six months. 

The City of Comanche is looking to clean up the west shoreline at Comanche Lake, a section that is often used for recreation. This adjoins their golf course, hosts two fishing docks, a boat ramp, and a boat dock. This project would be a partnership between The City of Comanche, Stephens County and volunteers.

Up With Trees partnering with HYPE (Hispanic young Professionals and Entrepreneurs) and St. Thomas More Catholic Church to provide a community orchard and Environmental Education in East Tulsa. They are naming this project East Tulsa Community Orchard Project.

Tree Bank Foundation will be using their grant funds to complete the next phase in their project to renew the canopy on Keystone Adventure School’s grounds. This phase includes 15 oak trees - 7 burr, 6 chinquapin, and 2 shumard.

Pride in McAlester will be purchasing and planting 15 dogwood trees to plant along streets and public property.

Earth Rebirth set a goal in 2013 to provide a garden for every Norman School. With the help of this grant, they will now be able to provide the final 9 schools with a community garden. 

“We did it! With the help of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s Environmental Beautification grant, we were able to exceed our goal to finish building gardens for the remaining schools in Norman that do not have one.” Andrew Sartain, president of Earth Rebirth expresses in their newsletter.

Phoenix Circle Foundation plans to build and establish a vegetable garden that will be a hands-on teaching tool for their community to learn how to grow fresh nutritious produce in a small space as well as the importance of nutritious food and exercise for good health and wellness as well as many other valuable tools.

Okeene Historic Preservation Group is expanding their recycling outreach by using their funds to purchase recycle bin.

The Ardmore Beautification Council will be using their funds for multiple projects. The first will be for the purchase of additional litter clean up tools, while the second will provide funding for their annual Earth First Exposition.

KOB currently has grants available for any Oklahoma organization interested in participating in the Great American Cleanup thanks to the generous donation from Oklahoma Gas and Electric, and P&K Equipment. For more information or to apply for these grants visit

Announcing 2019 ODOT Beautification Grant Winners! Eight Winners located across Oklahoma!

Oklahoma City, Okla. - Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB) in partnership with Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has announced 2019 ODOT Roadside Beautification Grant recipients totaling up over $22,000 to eight KOB affiliates. 

"Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is thankful to our sponsoring agency ODOT for making these grants possible to our affiliate network,” Jeanette Nance, Executive Director, KOB said. “We appreciate the good works of our partnering communities and the ability to fund such worthwhile projects is key to keeping Oklahoma a beautiful, healthy, sustainable place to live and thrive."

ODOT Roadside Beautification Grants are awarded through an application process open to KOB affiliates who propose beatification projects to be completed within six months. 

The City of Stroud will be installing a full-size replica of an Ozark Trail Monument in Centennial Park on Route 66.

Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum will be creating space between their extended parking lot and their front door.

Ardmore Beautification Council is using their grant to revitalize projects of landscaped medians.

The City of Okmulgee will be adding a city entrance sign on Hwy 75.

Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce will use their grant funds to paint a mural on the 6th St side of the Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce building.

Cherokee Main Street will be adding seven flowerbeds to accommodate the 13 bump-out areas along their main street.

OKC Beautiful will use their grant funding to expand their wildflower-planting program.

Okeene Historic Preservation Group will purchase and install new framing around windows to restore the Dusbabek building.

KOB currently has grants available for any Oklahoma organization interested in participating in the Great American Cleanup. These grants are made possible by generous donations from Oklahoma Gas and Electric,  and P&K Equipment. For more information or to apply for these grants visit

Saturday's with Shavara

Happy 2019 Green Friends! Welcome back to another Saturday with Shavara. I’ve missed you all during my December winter hibernation. Much like the new year has crept up on us, I too am back and ready to bring you some compelling information that will hopefully illicit some environmental change.

Aside from the many New Year resolutions we make in the month of January there is something else that begins to occur more frequently as we creep through the cold winter months, and that friends is winter weather. Now some may love the look and feel of snow more than others, but if I had to make a guess I would say absolutely no one enjoys the bad weather driving conditions. Ice and sleet are sure to make a typically boring trip to the grocery store feel more like an Indiana Jones adventure. Our state, municipalities and cities are responsible for our major roads and typically handle winter weather by salting and using de-icing concoctions to assist in melting snow and preventing ice, but have you ever wondered what becomes of that salt mixed snow once it’s removed? Well it is your lucky Saturday because I am here to tell you all about it!

In typical fashion, I had a desire to learn more about the environmental impact of snow removal/disposal, which was sparked by a fleeting memory of my time living on the East Coast where I would notice the mounds of “dirty snow” being piled against curbs that later seemed to just vanish. At the time it was easy to disregard that snow and I looked forward to the “snow fairies” a.k.a snow plow workers making it disappear, so that driving was made easier. I never once wondered about that removal process and its impact on the environment, that is until now. 

Snow that is removed from roadways plays a pretty significant role in water pollution in the winter because it is able to accumulate all types of contaminants as it’s scraped up, and often times dumped in, or near bodies of water. This form of pollution is referred to as non-point source water pollution; human induced pollution originating from sources such as agricultural and urban activities according to The snow that is removed from roadways can contain salt, salt additives, heavy metals, asbestos, petroleum products, bacteria and organic chemicals. All of this makes for a pretty gross concoction for our waterways if you ask me.

 Over 22 million tons of salt are scattered on the roads of the U.S annually, which is roughly 137 lbs for every person; according to a study done by the University of Massachusetts. The problem is that as much as we need salt and salt additives to prevent our roads from feeling like a Slip N’ Slide we also have to be responsible with how much we use and how that treated snow poses a risk when removed improperly.  When snow is disposed of improperly marine wildlife can be greatly affected by the added salt and contaminates contained in said snow. Freshwater animals need an internal salinity greater then the salinity of the water they live in, if this is not the case the fish have to use more energy to produce the ions that help them to keep water in their bodies, which leads to the added use of energy. The strain on wildlife as they deal with the added contaminants to their environment can lead to damaged cells and even cause death. The road salt actually reduces swelling of the Salmon eggs, which restricts the development and can cause deformities.

Now ideally some future genius will come up with a completely new method to clear our roads, but until then we can all do our part to minimize the road salt we use in our own driveways and sidewalks. Here are a few tips which suggest shoveling first, use salt on ice only, avoid applying salt near plants and be mindful of the salt that collects on your car because washing your care can lead to salt flowing off into storm drains. Many of us… myself included are guilty of spreading salt very liberally, sprinkling it like fairy dust over every square inch of driveway and sidewalk, so remember to apply only what is absolutely necessary.

Storing salt properly is also very important ( and I know what you’re thinking it seems like a lot of attention is being focused on something so small ). We can also make sure our cities and municipalities are being responsible with snow removal, many cities have mandates in place that require the placement of a silt fence between snow dumps and waterways.  Keeping salt piles covered and keeping it stored a distance from bodies of water is also a way to prevent water pollution. Reporting cases of improper snow disposal or salt storage to city officials keeps our cities and ourselves responsible for the water quality for marine life that doesn’t have a voice of their own. It takes everyone to protect our environment, and as always remember to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

KOB’s very own blogger

Shavara J 


Affiliate Only Grant Winners!

Nearly $62K in affiliate grant applications were received! Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality painstakingly reviewed each one trying to determine which to grant our available $40K to. While we would love to fund every one... Following are the communities whose projects were approved!!

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Great American Cleanup Registration Opens Dec. 15 at Midnight!

From March 1 to May 31, an estimated 60,000 Oklahomans will join millions nationwide to participate in the 2019 Great American Cleanup (GAC).

Individuals, organizations, companies, or groups wishing to participate in the Great American Cleanup in Oklahoma must register through Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB). Registered groups are able to receive free cleanup supplies, program materials and grant opportunities. Free supplies include trash bags, gloves, vests, water, t-shirts and promotional banners.  


Environmental Excellence Celebration Winners Announced

December 4, 2018 - Oklahoma City, OK - Oklahoma citizens with a passion for their communities joined together at Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s 28th Annual Environmental Excellence Celebration last Friday, November 30th at the Hilton Garden Inn & Edmond Conference Center. Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB), a statewide nonprofit recognizes Oklahomans doing their part to help preserve the beauty and sustainability of this state.

This year, over 37 individuals, communities, businesses, municipalities, state agencies and more from across the state were recognized for their work in the past year. The Keep Oklahoma Board selected six individuals or groups as recipients of the prestigious board commendation awards. 

This year’s recipients were as follows: Sara Hill with Cherokee Nation for the Towering Spirit Award. Chickasaw Reuse Center for Visionary Leadership. Francis Solar Systems – Tulsa for the Vanguard Award. Karen Chapman, with Blue Thumb for the Champion Volunteer Award. Tom Creider, Program Manager of Oklahoma State Parks for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Last but not least, our new Environmental Advocate Award for American Waste, Waste Connections and Waste Management.

Each year, KOB hosts the Environmental Excellence Competition, where the public nominates groups and individuals for their efforts to benefit Oklahoma. The nominations are presented to a panel of guest judges from the community, who determine finalists in various different categories.

 "Here at Keep Oklahoma Beautiful we are about communities, not profit,” said Jeanette Nance, Executive Director of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful. “When disconnected people come together as a community with a cause, we change the face of Oklahoma. I absolutely love this event where we can honor so many deserving individuals and groups for the good they do all across our state.”

Finalists for the Environmental Excellence Competition showed exceptional work in the following areas: education, conservation, beautification, sustainability practices, nonprofit efforts, youth leadership, litter prevention, and more. 

The winners in those categories included:

Affiliate Champions 

Kay Watson - Ardmore Beautification Council

Chuck Ralls - City of Comanche

Ony Russell - Owasso Strong Neighborhood Initiative

Nathan Pickard - Up With Trees

Stephanie Giacomo - Pride in McAlester

Youth Achievement Award:

Boy Scout Troop #169

K-12 Education

Will Rogers Elementary

Collegiate Effort

Oklahoma State University

Towering Spirit-Individual

Sara Hill - Cherokee Nation

Government Programs – Municipality

City of Oklahoma City - Shine 

Law Enforcement Individual

Deputy Don Hudgins, Logan County Sheriff’s Office 

Law Enforcement Program

Logan County Commissioners


Michelin of North America

Visionary Leadership

Chickasaw Nation Reuse Center

Best Visual Impact FPD

Town of Wellston 


Mercy School - Ms. Dabboussi’s class - 5th Grade 


Eisenhower Middle School - Ms. Berry’s class - 8th Grade 

Environmental Advocate Award

Waste Management

Waste Connections

American Waste Control


Durant Area Chamber 


City of Lawton 

ODOT - Trash Off - Best Overall

City of Pauls Valley 

GAC-Achievement Award 

Henryetta FFA 

Non-Profits: <15,000

Phoenix Circle Foundation 

Non-Profits: 15,000-40,000

Ardmore Beautification 

Non-Profits >40,001

South Central Industries 

Vanguard Award

Francis Solar Systems-Tulsa

Volunteer Community Group

Ardmore Clean Team

Champion Volunteer

Karen Chapman

Team Builders

OK Tree Bank Foundation 

Lifetime Achievement

Tom Creider

Best of the Best

Deputy Don Hudgins 

Winners in the various award categories were announced the night of banquet.

Shanon Philips, the President of KOB said, “the finalists and winners recognized at this event are an inspiration to all of us, proving that everyone can do their part to make the world a better place.” Join KOB in recognizing these outstanding Oklahomans!

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is a statewide nonprofit with a mission to empower Oklahoma citizens to preserve and enhance the state’s natural beauty and ensure a healthy, sustainable environment. For more information about KOB, visit:


KOB Announces UnCapped & UpCycled Finalists!

KOB's Litter Education programs provide an opportunity for classrooms to get creative while learning about litter, recycling, and more. 

UnCapped reaches 4th and 5th graders, where participants create an artwork out of bottle caps. Students also write a class-collaborative essay about why recycling is important. 

UpCycled is a program for 7th and 8th graders. Participants create "upcycle" art, using items that might otherwise have been thrown away. Students also write a class-collaborative essay about the importance of reusing items and the effects of landfills and excessive waste.

Finalists from these programs will be recognized at the 28th Annual Environmental Excellence Celebration on November 30, 2018. Check out the finalists below!


Teacher: Ms. Manal Dabboussi

Teacher: Ms. Manal Dabboussi

Teacher: Mrs. Ranee Schoenhals

Teacher: Mrs. Ranee Schoenhals

Teacher: Ms. Jennifer Lewis

Teacher: Ms. Jennifer Lewis


Teacher: Ms. Martha Perters

Teacher: Ms. Martha Perters

Teacher: Ms. Sandra Berry

Teacher: Ms. Sandra Berry

Teacher: Ms. Martha Peters

Teacher: Ms. Martha Peters