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Hosting a Community Cleanup

By Kim Robson:

It’s a sad fact that many people rarely meet or get to know their neighbors. We have our busy lives, and sometimes it’s hard to reach out to strangers. Hosting a community cleanup event, however, is a perfectly eco-friendly way to beautify your neighborhood AND meet your neighbors and make new friends. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Hosting a cleanup party does require some work. First things to decide are where and when your cleanup will take place. Plan it a good couple of months out so you’ll have plenty of time to prepare everything, contact the city and volunteer organizations if using, advertise the event, and get on everyone’s calendars.

Gather a small steering committee and delegate tasks such as these:

  • Call the public works department to rent a trash receptacle or arrange for a large pickup. They can also point out areas where illegal dumping is common. 
  • Contact volunteer groups like a local Keep America Beautiful chapter. 
  • Call your local waste management facility — most will have programs in place for free pickup of bags from a community cleanup event.
  • Draw up a few rules and regulations, plus waivers of liability, especially for minor children. California State Parks has some great example forms you can use here.

Assign someone to gather the supplies you’ll need:

  • Trash bags
  • Trash cans (if using)
  • Gloves
  • Pickers

Depending on where your cleanup area will be, consider the availability of bathrooms and the provision of drinks/snacks. If your location is a beach or park, there will be public bathrooms, but for a remote canyon, for instance, you’ll want to rent a porta-potty. Having a cooler full of iced tea or chilled water for refilling bottles will be much appreciated, too. Bring an assortment of easy snacks like nuts or granola bars or fresh fruit.

Once you have your event details nailed down, have fliers printed to distribute around your neighborhood. Hand them out door-to-door, staple them to telephone poles, and ask local businesses to put them in their windows. Post on Facebook and Instagram or a neighborhood app like NextDoor. Ask the city to put the information in their newsletter or on their website, and call local radio stations and newspapers to post a press release. Who knows — they may even send out a roving reporter to cover your event!

Be sure to include all the important details:

  • Where?
  • What date?
  • What times?
  • Will there be carpools?
  • What to bring (gloves, pickers, shade hat, water bottle, sunscreen, sensible shoes, long pants, long sleeves)
  • Rain or shine?

Last but not least, have a blast with it! Hosting a community cleanup can be a rewarding and fun way to help the environment and make new friends in your own neighborhood.

About Kim Robson

Kim Robson lives and works with her husband in the Cuyamaca Mountains an hour east of San Diego. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, cooking, and animals. She has written a blog since 2006 at kimkiminy.wordpress.com. Her interests include the environment, dark skies, astronomy and physics, geology and rock collecting, living simply and cleanly, wilderness and wildlife conservation, and eating locally.

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