How to Host a Clean Up event

We are providing this toolkit to help you plan successful cleanup event. Should you have any questions about planning your event, please contact one of your company’s Social Purpose Champions and be sure to follow local/state COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.

Please note these ideas and tips can be applied to those who are planning group clean ups (safely socially distanced, of course), or individuals who wish to do clean ups on their own.

Community Clean Up

This is the easiest type of clean up to execute. All that’s needed are supplies from the list below. This is a great way to give back to your local community and create an environment for your neighbors to enjoy.

If you choose to clean up a public park or office complex please be sure to contact park officials or the property manager to find out if any permits or special permissions are required.

1) Supply List

  • Trash bags
  • If you would like to recycle, consider using different colored bags to separate recyclables; recyclables can be dumped directly into bins and bags can be re-used. This can be a little harder to manage if you are doing a cleanup by yourself
  • Protective gloves (biodegradable if possible)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pickers (if you don’t feel comfortable handling trash even with gloves on)
  • Water (suggest refillable water bottle)
  • Closed toed shoes
  •  Face mask
  • Hats
  • Long pants if cleaning up in wooded areas
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • First-aid kit

2) Safety Guidelines

  • Wear masks and gloves at all times
  • Do not touch your face
  • As soon as you remove gloves, thoroughly wash your hands, of if access to a wash area is not available, use hand sanitizer
  • Designate a leader to keep track of volunteers (if a group activity)
  • Provide at least one adult supervisor for every group of six young people under 18
  • Do not step into areas with high vegetation as they are often home to poisonous plants and snakes
  • Use caution when picking up objects, such as broken plastic bottles, with sharp edges
  • Avoid dangerous or unsafe litter like razor blades, dead animals, condoms, hazardous household products and sealed containers (buckets, drums, etc.) which could contain hazardous substances.
  • Do not trust the labeling on any container; often the contents of a container are not what is on the label.
  • Do not pickup anything that looks like medical waste (i.e. pill bottles, needles, syringes, etc.)
  • Because they are often fragile or broken and their insides are coated with chemicals, do not pick up fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Do not overload buckets or bags. You should be able to lift them to shoulder height with moderate effort
  • If doing a beach clean up, do not pick up natural items such as driftwood, broken shells, sea whip, etc. These are part of the natural environment and should be left on the beach
  • Wear sunscreen and be sure to reapply
  •  Apply insect repellent before entering wooded areas or areas near water
  • If you come across any dangerous and unsafe items, and are doing your clean up in a public park or facility, try to locate park personnel and inform them of the items you’ve found so they can make sure to properly dispose of them

3) Additional Guidelines for Group CleanUps

Create an Event Plan which includes:

  • Date and if you are not planning to go rain-or-shine, a possible rain date

  • Meeting location with access to restrooms for volunteers and parking information

  • Post event to your company’s event calendar

  • Number of volunteers needed and initiatives to recruit them

  • List of supplies you will need for your specific cleanup

  • List of required permits or licenses (if any) needed and timeline for acquiring them

  • Schedule of events for the day of your community cleanup

  • Communication to colleagues with event details at least 3 weeks out

  • Reminder communication one week out

Day-of Activities

  • Establish volunteer check-in area (best to have another volunteer check people in as the event organizer will be busy)

  • If you have a check-in table, make sure to have plenty of hand sanitizer available and practice safe social distancing

  • Review safety guidelines with volunteers

  • Identify area to be cleaned; suggest volunteers start at opposite ends and meet in the middle

  • Explain to each person clearly where the trash collected is to be placed

  • Encourage frequent breaks for water and to swap out gloves and sanitize hands

  • Review tracking metrics, i.e. number of buckets/bags collected of each recyclable and litter and identify who they should provide this information to at end of event (suggest same person who handled volunteer registration)

  • Encourage volunteers to take photos of their trash collected and if posting to social media use #FirstServeOthers and #[COMPANYNAME]CleanUpWeek

  • Remember to take photos of all the collected trash and to focus in on any unusual items. If all the trash will be placed in dumpsters or bags as you progress, you may have to take several photography tours to capture your results

  • Have fun!

Post-Event Activities

  • Send thank you email to volunteers

  • Share your success on social media using appropriate hashtags

  • Consider issuing press release to local media detailing your event and including information on trash collected and photos (sample press release below)

Prize categories – if awarding prizes or just giving an opportunity for bragging rights

  • Best Before & After Pix

  •  Most Brands Represented at Single Event

  •  Most Visible Company Branding

  • Most Volunteers at Event

  • Most Trash/Recyclables Collected

  •  Best Use of Social Media (creative posts, engagement)

 Measurement Metrics – Be sure to designate someone to record this information

  • # of bags of trash collected

  •  # of bags of recyclables collected

  • # of volunteers in attendance

  •  Sq ft of area cleaned (optional)

Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is a great way to add an element of competition to your event.  

The premise is simple: Each volunteer tries to locate each item on the list. Multiple ways to award prizes:

  • Highest points

  • Fastest time

  • Most trash collected

  • Consider setting up departmental challenges, a speed challenge or a market-by-market competition

Designate a volunteer to collect all completed scorecards at the end of the CleanUp for prizes (this could be the same person who checks in volunteers)

If you are going to awarding prizes for most trash collected and participants will be collecting items in a large area and need to dispose of them nearby, consider having them take photos of themselves posing with their collected trash for award verification purposes

Available Resources

There’s an app for that! Consider utilizing an app like Litterati to record and track your trash collection, available on iTunes or Google Play.

Here’s a sample Scavenger Hunt scorecard – feel free to personalize it with items you may find at your clean up area.

Sample Event Flyers
Sample Clean Up Event flyer
Sample Press Release