The Great Global Cleanup

Organizing a Cleanup? Tips for Volunteers

Thank you for signing up to volunteer with the Great Global Cleanup™! By pitching in, you are helping to strengthen your community’s response to waste. If this is your first time as a volunteer at a cleanup, you might have questions. We are here to answer them.

  1. Ensure it is safe and permissible by local authorities. Always follow health and safety ordinances before heading outside. If you live in an area where you can be outside, be sure to practice social distancing and robust sanitation practices before, during, and after your cleanup.  
  2. Choose a safe location, route and time. Select a place where it is less likely you will be around other people. Your cleanup route can be done in your neighborhood or a park nearby.  Before heading out, know what route you want to take and calculate how long it will take.  Always do your cleanup in daylight and when weather conditions are suitable.  
  3. Wear proper clothing. Ensure that you wear a mask and some form of gloves for protection.  Wear closed toe shoes (not sandals or flip flops) socks, long pants and shirts to avoid contact with anything unsafe or contaminated.
  4. Protect yourself from the sun! Make sure you bring a hat and apply reef-safe sunblock before a cleanup.
  5. Safety first! Only pick up litter that is safe to handle and can be easily disposed of or recycled. Never touch the litter directly or your face during your cleanup. Additionally, BBQ tongs, salad tongs, or other pickup device can help create further separation between you and the litter. Bring hand sanitizer, especially if you are somewhere where you are unable to wash your hands. 
  6. Leave hazardous items alone. Do not touch items like needles, syringes and medical waste. Items like oil drums, batteries and canisters are not safe to touch or pick up. These need to be disposed of according to special rules.
  7. Make sure you hydrate and stay cool. Bring and drink water. Avoid over-exertion, sunburn, heat exhaustion and dehydration.
  8. Respect live animals. When encountering birds or animals on your cleanup, respect their space and avoid the temptation to feed them your snacks.
  9. Recyclables Versus Non-recyclables. Not every item can be recycled. In fact, including ‘dirty’ recyclable items can contaminate ‘clean’ recyclables. To prevent this, use a better-safe-than-sorry approach. If a recyclable item is not relatively clean, put it in the non-recyclable pile.
  10. Work in teams. Stay with at least one other person while you clean up. Make sure to social distance when possible.
  11. Watch for the tide. If you’re cleaning up on a beach, be aware of the rising or ebbing tide and keep your distance, especially in wavy conditions.
  12. Bring your kids! Bring them along but keep them safe. All children under the age of 14 should be supervised by an adult or guardian at all times.
  13. Use our Earth Challenge 2020 App! Want to have your cleanup be a part of the world’s largest citizen science initiative? Download the app Earth Challenge 2020 app to map, track, and submit cleanup data. You’ll be contributing to solutions to global waste problems.
  14. After the cleanup, make sure to wash your hands as soon as possible! Additionally, it is important to disinfect all the reusable equipment that was used during your cleanup. 
  15. Have fun! When appropriate, take to social media to post pictures of your cleanup in action to not only recognize your event, but inspire others to take part! Be sure to tag us @EarthDayNetwork and use the hashtag #GreatGlobalCleanup.

Thanks for making Earth Day every day!