Litter clean-up events are fun and easy to organise. They can transform people’s attitudes to litter and inspire more permanent solutions. Clean‑ups are a practical way to love your neighbour and your neighbourhood. Here are some tips…
Before the date
Choose a location. Ideas include a beach, riverbank or park.
Pick a date. Consider choosing an international celebration day, such as World Environment Day (5 June) or World Clean-up Day (a date in September each year).
Develop a core group. Recruit three or four motivated people to help you organise the event.
Get permission. Tell the local government about your litter clean-up. They might even agree to provide equipment such as litter sacks.
Plan a safe event. Visit the clean-up location and plan the event there.
- Identify the places where:
- people will meet
- the clean-up will start and end
- the litter will be sorted
- the litter will be deposited awaiting pick-up.
- Set the start and end times for the event.
- If you are cleaning up a beach, check the tides for that day.
- Think about possible problems. Consider what you can do either to prevent the problem, or to have a plan in case it happens. Think about any equipment required.
- Prepare guidelines on avoiding dangerous litter, such as asbestos, dead animals, corrosive materials (eg car batteries) and needles (which can transmit HIV). Check local guidance on dealing with hazardous waste, if available.
Spread the word. Publicise the event with friends, family, colleagues and your community. Why not involve your local newspaper or radio station?
Connect with a litter monitoring group. This is optional, but your clean-up will be even more useful if you record the different types of litter you find. To reduce litter at its source, we need to know what it is and who is producing it. Then we can campaign for change. Find a national or international litter monitoring organisation and familiarise yourself with their recording requirements.
On the day
Bring any equipment you will need, eg gardening gloves for volunteers, litter bags and a first aid kit.
Welcome everybody, and explain the plans for the day.
Collect the litter!
Sort the litter. Then leave it at the pick-up point to await collection, or transport it to the final location you have agreed with the authorities.
Debrief. Congratulate everyone and take a group photo.
After the date
Share your results on social media, blogs etc. Report back to the local government and thank them for any help.
Adapted from A Rocha International’s guide, How to organize a litter clean-up, available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Visit www.arocha.org/microplastics-toolbox and click on ‘Lifestyle’ to download a copy.
Inspiring young people
by David Junior
Several years ago I started to feel very frustrated about the litter on the beaches in my town of Maputo, Mozambique. My church youth group and I planned a clean-up event for the most popular beach. So far, we have completed four clean-ups.
It was easy to get other partners involved. We have been working with our local government, who fortunately embrace the cause of taking care of the environment. Environmentalists in our network gave us advice, and a TV channel shared our story.
Around 50 people attended one of our recent clean-ups. We can see positive changes in the participants’ lives – in their daily routines and the way they behave towards the environment. Gradually, the wider community is starting to change, and we are seeing less littering on the beach. I think young people can inspire others to take action on the environment!
David Junior is the Youth Coordinator for the Green Anglicans in southern Africa.