The Waste Issue
In 2016, the U.S generated more plastic waste than any other country, amounting to 42 million metric tons, or 286 pounds per person. It’s estimated that between 2 to 3% of this plastic waste was either discarded as litter or illegally dumped, and less than 10% of the waste was collected for recycling.
The Importance of Clean Ups
While individuals may not be able to stop the production of plastic waste, they do have the power to prevent waste from reaching important waterways and reduce its harmful impacts on wildlife and the environment. Clean-ups are also helpful for educating the community on waste issues and raising awareness.
Preparing for a Clean Up
Choose a location: You can host a clean-up almost anywhere! Just be sure to check for permission from the park agency if you pick a local park.
Gather supplies: You will likely need items such as gloves, trash bags (or reusable containers like buckets), water, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer/wipes.
Contact your crew: Whether you want to host a large event or just invite a few friends, working as a team will help amplify your impact.
Clean-Up Day Tips
- Always wear gloves to protect yourself from germs and sharp items.
- Do not collect needles or other medical waste unless a biohazard container is available.
- Find out where you can dispose of trash and recyclables ahead of time.
After the Clean Up
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after removing your gloves.
- Sanitize any gear used during the clean up such as buckets, reusable gloves, etc.
- Do not dispose of trash in an overflowing receptacle.
Share Your Progress
Consider taking photos at your clean-up and sharing them! You can take before and after pictures of the area, or photos of yourself picking up trash. Sharing your progress can help inspire others to do the same.