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How To Organize A Spring / Summer Cleanup In Your City : Go Green


We need to take care of our environment — it won’t take care of itself! Many towns, cities, and even parks are filled with our garbage and need to be cleaned up desperately. The good news is that good, caring volunteers can be found in every town, and with a little know-how and organizational skill, you can start your own spring or summer clean up that will rejuvenate the area you live in. Plus, you’ll probably meet some new friends in the process. Lets go green!

1. Find an Area that Needs Attention

Find a local area like a park, highway, or neighborhood that needs cleanup—this should be the easiest step. Getting in touch with local leaders like church officials, local government, or college societies like fraternities/sororities or Phi Theta Kappa/ Phi Beta Kappa, can get you a good head start and possibly a good source of volunteers to help.

2. Get a List of Volunteers

Put a sign-up list in a local business near the cash register (with the owner’s permission, of course). Make sure to indicate if you need volunteers to bring equipment and be specific. Also, if it is bright and sunny, make sure to mention that they should have baseball caps, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Also, be sure to indicate whether transportation is provided or whether they will have to provide their own, and specify the meeting point on the day/days of the project. The aforementioned groups can round up volunteers for you as many fraternities and sororities require their members to fulfill a minimum amount of volunteer hours per semester, and late in the spring semester can be a great time to set up a project, as this is the time when many students are scrambling for the hours they need but didn’t put in earlier in the semester.

3. Get the Needed Equipment

Find someone with a pickup truck, at the very least. Other equipment you will need bags for garbage, lots of pairs of work gloves for your volunteers, bug spray, and sunscreen, and maybe some hats to keep people shady. Don’t worry too much about this step, as most people will bring what they need. You need some place to put the trash and many businesses will be angry if you dump your trash in their dumpster, so make sure you check with people and get their permission before you dispose of your trash and remember your purpose is to clean up, so dispose of your trash responsibly. Have a disposal area ready before you start your cleanup. If you are cleaning up glass/debris or storm damage, BE SAFE, and coordinate with other groups (if any) that are working in the area. If you need to use heavy equipment like chainsaws, be sure it is operated by someone trustworthy, like a group leader or someone you trust.

4. Project Management

You may be surprised with the response you get, so be prepared to manage a few dozen people. If it is not many volunteers, they can go at their own pace, but if it is more than 10 or so, make them split into groups of 2-3 and assign them sections to clean. Make sure everyone has a buddy to look out for them and remember that safety is the number one priority for everyone involved. Have a meeting before you begin, and make introduction to make sure that everyone knows who the leaders are. During the project, there should be a “base camp”, usually around the vehicles where volunteers can go if they have a problem or need to talk to a leader. Everyone should have someone else’s cell phone number, just to make sure. Remember, communication is key! You will have to organize transportation. The easiest option is to just get people to take their own vehicles, but if there is not good parking for lots of people (such as by the side of a highway), the best and safest route is to get a bus, or just a few vans or SUVs that can hold multiple people. Usually, churches and college groups have a bus or vans you can use.

5. Have FUN!

Volunteering is its own reward, so take pride in the good deed you’ve done, and the new friends you’ve made! This is a great way to make contacts in the community, and helping to organize a project puts you in your communities gaze as a go-getter with organizational skills (go you!), plus you’ll get to know helpful, and possibly influential community members on a first name basis that can be the touchstone for even more great volunteering projects! Going green is its own reward, so Go Green and help the environment!

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