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Follow Our Cleanup Checklist

The Great Global Cleanup® is EARTHDAY.ORG’S flagship volunteer program to remove litter from our lands and waterways. Together with partners around the world, the campaign mobilizes millions of volunteers and coordinates tens of thousands of cleanups. 

Checklist for Individual and Small Group Cleanups:

(jump to large group cleanups)

Individual and Small Group Cleanups can be done anywhere that litter is found. Just grab a bag and go!

Plogging and TrashTag are ways of doing individual cleanups. #Plogging entails jogging and quickly stopping to pick up trash while you go.

#Trashtag is a social media trend — take “before and after” pictures of the area you cleaned up and post them!

1Ensure that it is safe and permissible by local authorities.

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic or local health emergencies: Always follow health and safety ordinances before heading outside. If you live in an area where masks and social distancing are required, be sure to follow those rules

2. Select a safe time and route for your cleanup. 

  • Select a route where traffic does not present a danger. Your cleanup route can be done anywhere. Our favorite spots include beaches, parks, our neighborhoods, and along streams or waterways
  • Go with a buddy — including one or more pals in your cleanup adds to safety and fun
  • Check the weather: Always do your cleanup in daylight and when weather conditions are suitable. Don’t clean up in high wind, rain, snow, fog or when extreme weather is predicted
  • Dress for the occasion: Wear sturdy shoes or boots, apply sunblock, consider wearing a hat, and use non-toxic insect repellant

3. During the cleanup

  • Mask up: Ensure that you wear a mask and some form of gloves for protection. Additionally, BBQ tongs, salad tongs, or other pickup device can help create further separation between you and the litter
  • Stay clean: Never touch the litter directly or and don’t touch your face during your cleanup. Bring hand sanitizer, especially if you are somewhere where you are unable to wash your hands
  • Safety first: Only pick up litter that is safe to handle and can be easily disposed of or recycled. Don’t pick up batteries or fireworks. Be careful picking up glass. If you’re unsure an item is safe, leave it alone!
  • Follow guidelines: Ensure that you are following guidelines set out by the CDC and EPA on how to dispose of personal protective equipment
  • Watch your kids: Children of all ages make great cleanup helpers. Always keep them in sight and off roads with traffic
  • Bring a cell phone: Stay in touch and take photos!

To really go the extra mile, consider using the plastics section of the Earth Challenge App to log your piece of litter and support citizen science.

4. After the cleanup 

  • Make sure to wash your hands as soon as possible
  • Disinfect all the reusable equipment that was used during your cleanup

Publicize the success of your cleanup on social media. Tag us at @EarthDay (or @EarthDayNetwork on Facebook) with the hashtag #GreatGlobalCleanup, #TrashTag, or #Plogging. We love to feature our volunteers! 

Checklist for Organizing Larger Group Cleanups:

1. When organizing a large community event, organize a suitable planning group:

  • Invite members from local government, civic organizations, clubs, homeowner associations, or churches to provide guidance and help with planning
  • Bringing together a diverse coalition can help before, during and after the event, to help things run smoothly

2. Select an appropriate site, date, and time:

  • Choose a public location: Cleanup a park, a river, or a similar community site. Places accessible by public transportation or bicycle are ideal
  • Select a date: The Great Global Cleanup is active throughout year-round. To ensure that volunteers with busy weekday schedules can attend, consider hosting your Cleanup on the weekend. Employers often give time off for employees to cleanup during the week
  • Time: Depending on where you are, choose a time that will have lots of daylight and comfortable temperatures for the volunteers

3. Before the Cleanup:

  • Determine the size of crew needed to clean each area
  • Determine transportation needs to get crews to and from their areas
  • Determine what additional litter pickups will be required in areas where sanitation departments will not be available
  • Determine where crews will need portable sanitary facilities
  • Online: Use Facebook or Eventbrite to publicize the event and manage volunteer sign ups. Share event information on your social media account
  • Register Your Cleanup at earthday.org/campaign/cleanup and see your cleanup appear on our global map
  • Offline: Where allowed, put up posters around the neighborhood, on the elevator in your apartment building, or on a public bulletin board

4. Line up support and supplies and arrange for disposal and recycling:

  • Ask for donations of trash bags, refreshments, equipment and loans of trucks and buses
  • Be sure that contributors get adequate credit for their donations in Cleanup promotion

5. Coordinate volunteers:

  • At sign-in, supply each crew member with several large trash bags and make it clear where each crew is to leave filled bags for pickup
  • Review safety, location of first aid kits, and who to call in case of emergencies
  • Where required, collect waivers from each volunteer
  • Make sure minors are always accompanied by an adult

6. After the Cleanup:

  • Publicize the success of the event on social media — tag us at @Earth Day on Twitter and Instagram and @EarthDayNetwork on Facebook with the hashtag #GreatGlobalCleanup and write thank-you emails to all cooperating government officials, businesses, and organizations.