How to organize a cleanup

Beach cleanups, park cleanups and trail cleanups have been a popular part of environmental conservation for decades. Plogging — derived from the Swedish words for “pick-up while jogging” — has become a movement worldwide where individuals collect garbage while running, jogging, walking, and even scuba diving. While we recognize that cleanups don’t deal with the root causes of the generation of plastic waste in the first instance, cleanup activities can have several benefits, including:

  • Helping build awareness of plastic waste in our cities and natural environments.
  • Contributing to cleaner community spaces — the less garbage in public areas, the less litter left there.
  • Getting out and active, whether alone or with family, friends, or the wider community.

Confronting the extent of plastic waste while doing cleanups in Honduras, South Africa, Taiwan, and Canada led our founder, Karen Farley, to look at ways to tackle the issue of plastic waste at its source leading to them starting NoSUP Canada.

If you would like to organize a cleanup event, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Encourage participants to wear long pants and closed shoes and bring a reusable water bottle and a plastic-free snack.
  2. Consider providing garbage bags approved for your area, gloves and pick-up sticks — some municipalities may offer cleanup materials, for example, garbage bags.
  3. Know how to identify potentially harmful plants, for example, giant hogweed or poison ivy.
  4. Leave hazardous waste behind, for example, hypodermic needles — some municipalities have information on their websites on how to report these items.
  5. Dispose of garbage collected responsibly; municipal websites may have information on garbage collection from cleanup events.
  6. Set targets, with or without small prizes, for family-friendly fun, for example:
  • Collect a certain amount of garbage type, such as ten plastic bottles.
  • Sort garbage into types or colours.
  • Find the most unusual garbage item.
  • Create an art project with the trash collected.
  • Clean a small area in a specified amount of time.

7. Take photos and share them on social media to build greater awareness of the plastic waste problem and show others just how much fun you had. Don’t forget to tag @nosupcanada and use the hashtag #saynosup!

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