Are you looking to volunteer at a local trash cleanup in your city? Or maybe you're traveling and would like to spend a day of your trip giving back to the local community and your planet. This post shares
7 8 9 10 ways for you to find or host community cleanups near you. If you've got a suggestion on where else to find local cleanup initiatives, drop a comment at the bottom of this post or e-mail [email protected]
#1 American Rivers
The American Rivers association offers an interactive map for finding river cleanups in your state with over 230 upcoming events listed at the time I'm writing this. And if you can't find one near you, they offer guidance on hosting and promoting your own river cleanup.
#2 Ocean Conservancy
The Ocean Conservancy offers an interactive map for finding cleanups worldwide. At the time I'm writing this, there are 39 cleanups being hosted across 5 continents. The Ocean Conservancy and their 12,949,862 volunteers throughout the world have collected over 249,391,051 pounds of trash since 1986. Can't find a cleanup through Ocean Conservancy? You can also organize your own.
#3 Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation organizes beach cleanups through local chapters and student clubs in coastal communities around the USA. Since 2017, Since 2017 over 85,440 volunteers have hosted 1,650 cleanups and collected over 524,267 pounds of trash. At any given time, they are working on organizing over 100 campaigns. You can search on their website for a local chapter or student club near you to volunteer at their next cleanup.
#4 Storm Water Services In Your City
Storm Water Services for most cities usually have some type of waterway maintenance or green cleanup outreach programs that you can contact to find local cleanup events. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this service, your local storm water services are the people who are in charge of where water goes when it rains, which is usually into creeks and rivers. Cities need to divert water off of roads, parking lots, businesses, and other impervious surfaces, which picks up trash along the way.
Search “storm water services + your cit to find your local storm water services' website or phone number.
#5 Facebook Events & Meetup.com
Often times when local organizations host cleanups, they'll create an event on Facebook or Meetup to spread the word and share details of the cleanup. Search either website for keywords like trash cleanup, creek cleanup, or river cleanup to see what pops up.
#6 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA's website hosts a Cleanups in my Community section that enables you to map hazardous waste cleanup locations and grant areas near you, and find details about those cleanups and grants. This method is not as cut-and-dry as the others listed in terms of finding hosted events, but it will help you find troubled areas in your community that could use your attention.
Litterati App (available for Android and iOS) makes picking up trash a social and viral experience through their platform. At the time I'm writing this, they've got almost 200k members across 165 countries who have put on over 6k local challenges.
Step 1: Photograph a piece of litter. Step 2: Discard it and tag the photo. Step 3: Invite and challenge others.
🏆 Thanks Susan Nagi of Trash Travels Across America for commenting on this post and recommending that I add Litterati to the list.
#8 Marine Debris Tracker
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also offers a mobile app called Marine Debris Tracker (available for iOS and Android) which is less about facilitating hosting cleanups and more about data tracking. You can use this app in conjunction with your cleanup efforts to help contribute to data compilation on plastic pollution in your community.
#9 Ask Around
The organizations I listed above are nationally run and provide helpful ways to host or find local events to volunteer at, but there are thousands of locally run organizations doing their part as well. Search for trash cleanups + your city to see what pops up, or ask around on social media to see if your friends know of any. By asking your friends and family on social media what trash cleanups they know of, you're also helping to bring the conversation front and center into the minds of your network, which can help you recruit a few volunteers along the way.
#10 Host Your Own Trash Cleanup
If none of the resources and tips above help you find an existing trash cleanup to volunteer at, don't give up hope! You can always host your own. Faith Wakefield at EcoWatch shares some steps on how to organize a local cleanup yourself. It's not rocket science! Hosting a cleanup just takes some initiative, planning, and preparation.
What'd I miss?
If you know of a great way to find local trash cleanups that I didn't mention, drop a comment below and I'll add it to the list. Keep in mind that I can't add every local organization because the list would be too long, but I'm happy to add more websites and directories that share local cleanup events.
Watch the Video: This Professor #TRASHTAGS
This list was inspired by my friend Andrew Goff who teaches biology at UNC Charlotte. Twice a semester, Professor Goff offers his students the ability to earn extra credit in his class by cleaning up a stretch of creeks in their community. Watch and share his inspiring video entitled This Professor #TRASHTAGS to spread the message that we're not alone in our cleanup efforts.
You may think you're just one person, and your impact is minimal, but the reality is we've all got networks, social circles, officemates, sports teams, clubs, and spheres of influence, that we can leverage to make a difference beyond that what we can accomplish on our own through cleanup projects and education initiatives to make our communities aware of the severity of the problem we as a world are facing.
Thanks for being here – wherever you are in the world!
Andrew's positive impact on my view towards trash and plastic pollution set me on a mission to find other folks around the world who are doing their part to protect the environment. Check out the video I later published in Oct 2019 entitled We Can Change The Future with Professor Andres Velez and his English class in Tena, Ecuador.