After two years of achieving low-waste within my home, in 2019 I resolved to become more involved in my community. For me, an easy place to start was a community clean-up. So easy, you only need to follow three steps!

1. Location, Location, Location!

Location, location, location, and date and time! First choose a location and meet-up point. Personally, I chose a location that does not have a business district. Typically business districts are supported by sales taxes which then fund clean-up initiatives and jobs. Therefore, choose an area in need. This likely goes without saying, however, choose an area that has a fair amount of trash. You may also want to consider child-friendly areas if you feel your participants may bring their older kids.

2. Gather the Troops

You have your location, time, and day. Now you need to gather an interested group of fellow do-gooders. This is possibly the most nerve-wracking part of the whole process. It involves you reaching out to (potential) strangers. If you’re considerably nervous about this, I recommend first checking with a good friend or two to insure they are able to attend your clean-up. By doing this, you know you’ll have the support of one person!

The way I have organized my clean-ups is by :

  • Posting to Instagram
  • Posting to local “zero waste” Facebook groups
  • Reaching out to friends and family
  • Reaching out to local, sustainable businesses

I have followed-up 2-3 days in advance to make sure everyone interested is still attending.

3. Supplies

If you live in St. Louis city, this is extremely easy! BrightSide allows you to check-out bags, roll carts, trash grabbers, and wagons for free. All you have to do is fill out an online request form–they’ll even promote your clean-up on their community calendar. If you live elsewhere, you may contact a similar company. Otherwise, you will want to provide the following, or ask your volunteers to bring:

  • Gloves (I encouraged garden gloves as opposed to disposables)
  • Trash bags
  • Recycling box (use a box to keep these items loose as opposed to bagged)

During the event, be sure to take before and after pictures and post to those same places where you solicited volunteers. Also, think of other ways you may want to quantify your success. Bring a scale and weigh your trash; count the bags of trash you collect, etc.

Moving forward, I want to choose a location with the end in mind! Meaning, ending at a donut shop, coffee shop, bar, or somewhere where participants can talk a bit more. Plus, it will be a nice way for me to treat those who come out to help!

Now that you know what to do! Go forth and clean the streets!