Green Tips: How to Organize Your Own Clean-Up

Green Tips | September 9, 2021

September 18th, 2021 is National Clean-Up Day! If you’re interested in participating in a clean-up, check out the National Clean-Up Day website. If you would like to organize a clean-up of your own either this month or in the future, we have some tips for you this week! Whether a beach clean-up or collecting litter in the park, hands-on work is really helpful in beautifying our outdoor spaces. Here are some tips to help you organize your own clean-up:

  1. Choose a Location
    • Choose a location in your community that needs a good clean-up. Maybe it’s a waterfront, public park, or on the grounds of a community center or library that’s been ravished by trash. Talk to members of your community for input, too. 
    • Know the area before your event to familiarize yourself with the area. Set a clean-up route and decide on boundaries ahead of time.
    • Be sure to check with your local government about permitting. 
  2. Work with Partners
    • It’s recommended that you reach out to community groups, other local stakeholders, and even local elected officials to work together on the event. Event partners can help with organizing and/or helping to spread awareness of the event.
    • Community groups may have strategic partnerships with local stakeholders, vendors, or elected officials.
    • Work with your event partners to come up with a date and time that works for everyone.
  3. Materials Needed During the Clean-Up
    • Will you provide gloves, grabbers, and bags for participants or ask that folks bring their own?
    • Will you have recycling and garbage receptacles at the clean-up site? Depending on how much refuse is expected to be collected, you may need a larger container available for disposal.
    • Informational flyers and signs to guide participants during the event will help make sure everyone is on the same page. You may want to educate volunteers on hazardous materials, what not to pick up, and the boundaries of the clean-up site.
    • Participants will also appreciate snacks and hand sanitizer at the event.
  4. Things to Consider
    • Check-in and waivers: It may be helpful to have a table set up at your clean-up location so you can check folks in (if you have an RSVP requirement). The table will also provide an anchor point for folks to go to in case they need materials, have questions, or need to fill out any forms. We recommend that you create a liability waiver
    • Access to public bathrooms and wheelchair accessibility: are there facilities nearby or will you need to bring in a portable restroom? Make sure people are aware of where to go. Consider folks with physical disabilities- are there certain areas of the clean-up site that are more accessible than others?
    • Rain date: typically it’s advised to have a rain date as a backup. Cleaning up in the rain won’t attract many participants and can be a hazard depending on the location.
    • Event staff/volunteers: recruit a few people to handle certain aspects of the event (leaders to lead the group, someone to stay at the check-in table, someone to hand out materials and snacks, etc.) Make sure participants know who the point-person is for various needs.
  5. Spread the Word
    • Use flyers and post them around town. If you have an RSVP requirement, QR codes are a great way to ease the sign-up process.
    • Use your event partner’s networks to help spread the word among their membership.
    • Use social media platforms.
    • Register your clean-up on the National Clean-Up Day’s webpage
  6. Track your Progress
    • Depending on your type of clean-up, consider using a tracker app to help collect data on pollution. If you’re by a waterway, add to the Marine Debris Tracker, or chart your collection another way. 
    • There are other citizen science clean-up initiatives to encourage your participants to get involved with. Usually, all they need is their phone!

We hope you find these tips helpful! Maybe you will be the start of a yearly clean-up initiative in your community! We cheer you on and hope you have a great National Clean-Up Day on September 18th!

Written by: Kerry Ellis

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