The Great Global Cleanup

6 pickup lines for a zero-waste Valentine’s Day

Can anyone remember the last time a pickup line worked? Or wasn’t steeped in patriarchal presumptions? Me neither, and this is coming from someone who loves wordplay.

This year, impress your crush with a photo of our lines of collected trash from our most recent cleanup. Oh, they’re intrigued? Now, they want to join a cleanup? Tell them to take part in the Great Global Cleanup!

1. First you swept litter from the street. Then you swept me off my feet.

Looking for a way to show your love for that special someone? Why not think outside the box (of chocolates) and dedicate an Act of Green on their behalf. A great starting point is right where you live: Do a quick cleanup of your street.

Local cleanups also save your community money; according to a survey of communities on the West Coast, it costs $13 per person to clean up and prevent litter and waste from becoming marine debris (that $13 could be spent on giving everyone some vegan, fair-trade chocolate!).

2. Let’s get trashy tonight

Frustrated that the town’s hottest new restaurant is full tonight? Can’t believe that your local grocery store doesn’t carry your partner’s favorite chocolate? Feeling guilty about all the times you purchased flowers, only to realize how damaging it is to the environment?

Before you and your partner get too tired from wine, consider taking 10–20 minutes to clean up the park you both frequent on lazy Sundays. To make it spicy, see how many different items of litter you can find; the average beach cleanup yields 350 different types of litter! You can even make it a contest: Whoever finds less kinds of litter must pay for dinner or do the dishes.

3. My love for you can never be reduced / reused / recycled

Let’s be real: Recycling is one option to prevent waste from ending up in the natural environment, but it’s not the bestoption. In fact, recycling is littered (pun intended) with problems and shortcomings, from aspiration recycling to flat-out doing it incorrectly — leading to a contamination rate of almost 25% in U.S. recycling bins.

Instead, organize or volunteer for a cleanup — a great way to educate others on how to reduce overall consumption (especially plastics) and clean up what’s already out there. 

4. There’s only one butt I want to see tonight, and it’s not from discarded cigarettes

Cigarette butts are the most common item found in cleanups around the world, accounting for more than one-third of all collected litter. And it makes sense: Cigarettes are small and easy to discard. Plus, Hollywood has made flicking them away before putting on shades look so damn cool.

But what’s not cool is how pervasive cigarettes are in our environment. What’s worse, 98% of a cigarette’s filter is made up of plastic that’s non-biodegradable. So, the next time you’re in the company of a smoker, remind them to properly dispose of their cigarette: No ifs, ands or butts.

5. We should pick up trash while listening to Compost Malone this Valentine’s Day

My colleague Sam, who runs our MobilizeU program, is a big Post Malone fan. She’s an even bigger fan of composting, because food waste makes up a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions. In America, the average person wastes a pound of food per day.

Typically, when we think of waste, we think of plastic bottles and Styrofoam, but let’s not let food waste off the fork so easily. Next time you have excess food or leftovers, ask yourself: Can I be better now, better now, with food waste not around, not around?

6. My love for you is like the amount of trash in our waterways: overflowing

You think I was going to let recycling off that easily? Think again, buddy. Right – recycling. We have a global waste problem, and it doesn’t help that only 9% of plastic ever made has been recycled.

Often, the waste we throw away does just that — it goes away to our waterways, which affects both our drinking water and the wildlife that depend on clean and toxic-free water. On average, nearly one million marine animals will die each year to due plastic-related illness, ingestion or suffocation.

And toward the end of the night…

Now, if you are as hot (like our planet is becoming) and heavy (from the crushing amount of waste piling up) like I am, there’s good news: You can tackle our planet’s out-of-control waste today.

Earth Day Network’s Great Global Cleanup™ removes billions of pieces of waste from our shared public spaces, waterways and backyards. Join thousands of existing cleanups or organize one on your own. No matter what, the path to a cleaner future starts with you.