Sick of seeing trash littering your favorite public spaces and community? You can go beyond picking up litter in your neighborhood, serve your community, and develop a sense of civic engagement all at the same time! How? Organize your own community trash pickup event! Community clean up programs can go a long way toward improving your neck of the woods, and they’re not that hard to organize. Let’s walk through how to make one happen.
Step 1. Start Small
All good projects start with an idea. Community clean up project ideas are easy to come by--here’s a few to get you started:
- Aluminum Can Scavenger Hunt (have prizes for top collectors)
- Plastic Bottle Scavenger Hunt
- Fill a Bag, Get a Prize (provide coupons/prizes for number of trash bags filled on site)
You don’t have to get too creative either. Starting with a small idea is often much more actionable than an enormous project. Don’t start by trying to clean up every park in a 5 mile radius. Start with a small one, or even just a cleanup for your street or neighborhood. Remember the snowball effect--start the ball rolling, and you’ll be surprised where it ends up.
Step 2. Have a plan
The most important part of any successful event is the planning. Execution grows exponentially harder when you don’t have a plan in place for how everything is going to go. Here’s a few things to get organized before you start promoting your event:
- Where? Where is the event going to take place? Will you require city permits and volunteer consent forms to clean the place you’ve chosen?
- When? A weeknight, a weekend day? What’s going to be the idea time to get the most turnout for the event?
- How many people? Determining what the ideal amount of people you’ll need to help out with the even will go a long way in.
- What are you going to do to incentivize attendance? There may be different ways of doing this--shoutouts on social media, t-shirts, and if all else fails, the feeling of having done a nice thing is a pretty good motivator.
- Do you have the right equipment? A successful trash pickup event requires somewhere to put all the trash you’re going to be picking up! Getting in touch with your local government to see if they’ve got some trash bins they can loan out is a great place to start, and making sure you have a good supply of trash bags on hand is a must. If you need good trash bins, why not take a look at our extensive inventory?
- What safety precautions need to be observed for the cleanup? If people are going to be touching a lot of trash and potentially hazardous materials, making sure that they’re protected is a great idea. Plan for gloves, trash bags, and all the materials necessary to ensure that the cleanup is healthy, safe, and effective.
Step 3. Get Social
One of the best ways to get people on board with your community cleanup project is to connect with folks where they are. Social media is a wonderful platform for spreading the word about your event, as well as getting a tentative head count for the day of the event. A Facebook event is a wonderful place to start--invite everyone you know, and get them to invite their friends as well.
NextDoor can also be a valuable local tool for connecting with people in your area. Find the board for your neighborhood, and post on a bulletin board.
Other social media platforms can be useful as well. If you’ve got a local following, Instagram can be a great way to drum up engaged participants!
Step 4. Put Up Flyers
There are traditional methods for getting the word out about your event, and the old tried-and-true flyer method is a great one. Find all of the local community boards that you can, and print out some eye-catching flyers to get people intrigued by the event. While it might seem self-explanatory, people often forget to include the important details like:
- Where it is
- What time it will be at
- What to bring/what will be provided
- End time
- Special events/announcements
Once you’ve got your flyers, hang them up wherever you can, but remember, you’re trying to reduce the level of mess in your community, so be strategic about where you put your flyers, and don’t overdo it.
Step 5. Local Support
This one can depend on where you live. If there’s a community newspaper or another local business that runs a newsletter, get in touch with them. They might be able to offer you space for free in a community events section, or potentially advertise your event for free.
Also, if you’re new to the world of non-profit endeavors, you might not realize that you can go ask businesses for free things! If you’d like to get some t-shirts together for the event, go and talk with a local t-shirt company, see if they’d be willing to help in exchange for space on the poster or event page that says “sponsored by.”
Remember that your most powerful source of capital for a volunteer or free community event is social capital. Reach out to your friends and social network for help, you never know what people might be able to pull together to help you out with.
Step 6. Get to work
Now that you’ve organized and advertised, it’s time to get going with the event. Make sure that the meeting place to start the cleanup is clearly marked so you can meet with your volunteers and get them going on different tasks.
Then it’s just a matter of rolling up your sleeves and getting to work.
If you need equipment for your community cleanup event, we have you covered, from rolling trash cans to large recycling bins. Get in touch with us, or browse our wide selection of products, and we hope your event is a success!