Help the Planet by Organizing a Community Cleanup

It’s easy to believe that because you are just one person that you have very little effect on the earth. But each year, individuals just like you head out into their neighborhoods to participate in community cleanups. The total trash picked up in these types of cleanups can be astounding. In San Diego, Calif., for example, participants typically collect about 25 tons of trash during each community cleanup. And in Tacoma, Wash., citizens in 2012 picked up approximately 172 tons of trash during 18 community cleanups. So if you’ve been looking for a way to help out the planet, a community cleanup may be an excellent way for you to show Mother Earth as well as metro Denver a little love.

Help the Planet by Organizing a Community Cleanup

Hook Up with a National or Local Organization

Not sure if you want to tackle a community cleanup on your own? Then check with your local city or county government to see if they host an annual cleanup day. For example, Keep Denver Beautiful holds an annual cleanup day, held on Saturday, April 26 this year. Interested volunteers should contact The Great Denver Cleanup, which is providing free bags for the annual event.

There are also national organizations that you can coordinate with, including COASTSWEEP, which is an annual event dedicated to cleaning coastlines and waterways. If you contact COASTSWEEP and let them know of your plans, it will send you garbage bags, gloves and other supplies for free. This organization will also help you solicit donations if you think you will need them.

Small Level or Independent

Your event does not have to be huge. It can be very localized. For example, you can just target the neighborhoods of your homeowner’s association or the area surrounding a particular school. To help you get in touch with volunteers, you may want to solicit the help of a school, homeowner’s association or other local organizations so that they can possibly put notices in their newsletters or emails or help you to distribute flyers. You might also want to work with Extreme Community Makeover, an organization that partners churches, schools or even individuals with specific areas in Denver to complete much needed neighborhood improvement projects.

Organizing your own grassroots project means that you will have to set a date and time that will best work for you and your prospective volunteers. You will then need to get the word out about your cleanup on social media sites and with local news media. In addition, you will have to either purchase or solicit donations for the various supplies you will need, including:

  • Gloves: Your volunteers aren’t going to want to pick up trash barehanded.
  • Trash bags: If possible, you will want to have separate bags for recyclables. These bags need to be heavy-duty to handle being carried for some distance.
  • Dumpsters: Remember that the San Diego community cleanups typically collected about 25 tons of trash a day. Even if your event collects only a fraction of that tonnage, you are still going to need a place for your garbage bags. For that reason, you should consider renting a dumpster. This company’s all-inclusive fees cover delivery, pickup and disposal of all of your trash.
  • Water and snacks: You may be able to get donations of these items from local grocery stores. Just remember to publicly acknowledge the store’s contributions.
  • Safety vests. If your workers will be working alongside busy roads, you may want to try to get bright orange vests for your volunteers to don for their protection.
  • Antibacterial soaps, if possible.
  • First-aid kit. More than likely, you are going to need some bandages, but you should also have antibiotic lotions and tweezers.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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