Reader-Submitted Neighborhood Cleanup Tips
- The most important ingredient to organizing a neighborhood cleanup is the neighbors! Most of us are guilty of only knowing our neighbors on either side of us, past that folks might as well be in another country.
Never fear – this is not as hard as it sounds and you don’t have to go door-to-door to introduce yourself! First, realize that your next door neighbor probably knows the neighbor on the other side of them so once you contact your neighbor they can pass on the information to the neighbors they know and so on. A really quick chain reaction
occurs and you haven’t had to knock on one door. Word of mouth advertising like this works really well in a closed community like a subdivision. Also, in a suburban community don’t forget to contact the schools and churches.
Involve the kids. A good number of today’s youth belong to clubs that require community hours and high school students are always looking for volunteer activities to put on college applications.
But, say your project is a bit larger like a metropolitan “city-block.” You might be looking at several apartment/condo complexes with businesses mixed in. I would first introduce myself to the owners of the businesses and get them onboard. They will then
probably let you post flyers in the business or even have their baggers/cashiers put things in customer’s bags if they have purchased something. Professional businesses, like insurance agencies, real estate offices, and law offices might be potential sponsors who will foot the bills for supplies and such so don’t forget to include them as well. I would approach the management of apartments and condos, introduce yourself and ask if you can post something in their offices or in their newsletters if they have them.
Just remember, with an event like this, the more people you have involved the easier and quicker it will be so give it your all.
- Actually, you can do a simple neighborhood cleanup with just a couple of trash bags and some gloves. Just picking up the trash will make a big difference. But for larger cleanup’s you will need at least the following: trash bags, gloves (rubber or work gloves), boxes to separate items that can be recycled, a power-sprayer to help remove graffiti, cleaning products like 409 for playground equipment and signs, buckets for rinse water, rakes, and possibly shovels for picking up or digging up larger items. You might also need vehicles and drivers to transport recycling items to the appropriate places and possibly trucks for larger items to be taken to a city dump. Bring the necessary cleanup supplies for your volunteers, things like: hand sanitizer and shoe scrapers for muddy shoes and boots. You might also prepare some signs that indicate who you are, what you are doing and for drivers to use caution in the area while you are working. Don’t forget drinks and snacks for your volunteers as well.
- Chances are you won’t have to pay a dime for your supplies. Contact your local grocery store for a donation. They will always have boxes on stock days, just ask when that is and they will probably tell you to come that evening and pick them up. Grocery stores and hardware stores are also potential sponsors for your event so ask if they will donate trash bags, gloves. You can also contact businesses that fall in the area you will be cleaning up; it helps them look better if their neighborhood is clean so ask them to sponsor you with a monetary donation to the cause. Ask the neighbors who are participating to bring rakes, shovels and anything else in their garage that can be used. Make sure they label their items as you will end up with a ton of stuff to use. Call you cities parks and recreation department; they might donate equipment and supplies. Finally, while you’re talking to the city ask if there are any grants for projects like yours, you might be surprised at what money is out there that people just don’t know about.
- When you are faced with playground equipment and a lot of signage good ‘ole soap and water will often do the trick. Natural products to try are vinegar and water, flour pastes, salt, lemon and baking soda. Don’t forget the elbow grease! There are some name brands that might help you with cleaning up: 409, Goo Gone, Oxy-Clean, and Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers. Just remember that whatever you use try the gentlest product first. If you do use a commercial product follow the manufacturers instructions regarding run off water. A power washer will often remove tough stains with the addition of soap. You can also add a bit of sand to your power washer (read your directions first!) for tough stains. With more pronounced things like graffiti you might consider repainting the area instead of trying to clean it. Always check with the city before you repaint signage.