Trash collection is an essential part of waste management, but not all municipal sanitation departments have a method in place for collecting litter. Nevertheless, littering is still enough of a problem in the U.S. that many organizations and individuals have decided to step up and do something about it. These litter pick-up committees can be found all over the world, but how do they bridge the gap between municipal sanitation and eco-conscious volunteerism?
How do litter pick-up committees work?
Litter pick-up committees are professional or volunteer organizations dedicated to helping clean up litter in and around our communities. Often, these committees will come together as a result of an organized community cleanup initiative. Anyone can start one of the initiatives and begin the work, and some sanitation departments will even provide bags, gloves, safety vests, and litter grabbers to enthusiastic organizers.
Why do we need litter pick-up committees?
Despite the obviously unsettling nature of the images in this very article, litter remains a big problem in the world today. According to Texas Disposal Systems, litter is responsible for the death of more than a million animals each year either because they ate it or became trapped in it. Litter is also responsible for 60 percent of water pollution. In addition, 40 percent of the world’s air pollution is caused by litter being burnt and toxic emissions being released into the atmosphere.
Street sweepers are a fairly common sight in some cities, so much so that parking rules have to be changed to accommodate them. Unfortunately, besides littering fines, that is the extent to which many municipalities go in terms of litter removal. It appears that sanitation departments are so inundated with the day-to-day tasks of trash collection, that responsibility for litter removal falls upon the citizens themselves. The gist being, don’t litter, and if you see litter, pick it up, please.
How to get involved in a litter pick-up committee:
There are many litter pick-up committees across the U.S. Some of these committes can be found below, but there are many more that are not listed. If you are interested in learning more about litter pick-up committees in your area, contact your local sanitation department for information.
Keep Columbus Beautiful
For those living in and around the city of Columbus, Ohio, there’s the Keep Columbus Beautiful program. The city’s core litter cleanup personnel are made of residential volunteers who take time to come on weekends and evenings in order to clean up the city. The city provides all necessary equipment and guidelines for volunteering can be found on the Keep Columbus Beautiful website.
The Greener Gateway Committee
Based out of Lee, Mass., the Green Gateway Committee works to keep the entire area clean by sharing experience and equipment. The organization routinely seeks out new volunteers to help clean up litter and beautify the area for the benefit of both residents and visitors. Its goal is simple: through the promotion of environmentally-friendly practices, it seeks to make the town more attractive and sustainable for everyone, while also fostering a practical understanding of environmentalism.
Keep Atlanta Beautiful Commission
The City of Atlanta’s Keep Atlanta Beautiful Commission was designed to inspire and educate people toward beautifying its community. Not only does this program seek to clean up litter wherever volunteers find it, but it also works to improve existing recycling programs and green initiatives around the area. Like other programs on this list, the Commission provides resources to interested volunteers that wish to do some good.
Nashville Litter Prevention and Community Beautification
The Nashville Litter Prevention and Community Beautification program lists a number of different cleanup initiatives happening in the area, including the Spring Clean that runs from March 1 to May 31. More a set of guidelines for organizers, the program offers interested volunteers a chance to register online for free cleanup supplies. It also provides guidance on organizing a community cleanup.
DSNY Clean Community Campaigns
New York City is one of the largest, most populated cities in the country. That means that the NYC Department of Sanitation has its hands full most days. Therefore, it’s understandable that its Clean Community Campaign is more of a tool for existing volunteer efforts to clean up litter within their communities. The DSNY will offer loans of equipment and tools to interested organizers as well as offering educational resources for those just getting started.
City of Tacoma Community Cleanup Program
Due to the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic, the Community Cleanup Program for Tacoma, Wash. has had to cancel neighborhood-specific cleanup events in the city this past year. That said, the program is still dedicated to helping interested volunteers clean up their neighborhoods. What such highly-populated volunteer events may look like going forward, however, remains to be seen.
The Waste Authority
The Waste Authority sponsors the Keep Northeastern Pennsylvania Beautiful campaign, which covers six counties throughout Northwestern, Pa. Its focus is to organize litter cleanups and reduce waste, though it also sponsors educational events to discuss recycling programs, graffiti removal, community greening, and cigarette litter prevention. Like most of these programs, the Waste Authority relies heavily on volunteer assistance.
York County Cleanup Programs
Those who live in York County, Va., and want to help clean it up, can contact the Waste Management Center and apply for a free cleanup kit. These kits have everything an interested volunteer would need to beautify their neighborhood. When volunteers have completed their task, the York County will send sanitation officials to collect all bagged litter and dispose of it accordingly.