Green Tips: How to organize a community cleanup

Green Tips | September 13, 2018

As of 2012, New Yorkers produced on average almost 3 pounds of trash per person per day. Often, the immense amount of trash we generate ends up not in our landfills but in our streets, parks, and beaches. Whether you live in urban or rural NY, you’ve likely seen and perhaps contributed to local litter. Community cleanups or trash pickup events join neighbors in performing a public service and maintaining their neighborhoods. Many local environmental groups organize day-long cleanup events to invite the public into their ongoing conservation campaigns. In addition to attending these events, organizing your own is a great way to support and engage your community in protecting the environment!

You can follow the steps to organize your own community cleanup event (for more information, read the Let’s Pick It Up New York! guide from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation).

Assemble a team. Gather your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and co-workers to join the cleanup effort. Encourage them to reach out to their own social circles to expand your base. Invite local institutions and community groups to organize and turn out their members. Find more information on assembling a strong volunteer team here.

Partner with community organizations. Groups experienced in conducting cleanups may be helpful organizing partners. Try to engage local environmental and conservation groups in your community cleanup.

Pick a cleanup site. Determine a site in need of environmental maintenance. Most publicly accessible areas will incur litter that you can help eliminate. Such areas may include parks, beaches, streets, playgrounds, and school campuses. Remember that you may need to obtain a permit to host your event (check with the appropriate government department in your area).

Gather your materials. If you don’t already have them in your house, standard cleanup materials can be found in almost any supermarket. You will likely need:

  • Volunteers  
  • Garbage bags (make sure to have both Landfill and Recycling bags)
  • Heavy-duty gloves  
  • Trash Pickers & Grabbers  
  • T-shirts or old clothing (outfits you don’t mind getting dirty)

Share the event information. After setting the date, time, and location for your community cleanup, make an online page promoting the event. You can also distribute and post notices of the cleanup in the weeks beforehand, as well as inform local media outlets and community newsletters of your plans.

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