If you love your neighborhood and the people who live there, you want it to be the best possible place to live. That means keeping it safe, fun, and clean! But you can’t stop trash from piling up in some places, or from being strewn on the sidewalk by neglectful passersby. We can all do our part to clean up every once in a while, but a community-wide effort can help improve the overall appearance of your neighborhood. If you think it’s time to organize a cleanup with your neighbors, here are a few steps to take that may help you do that.

1- Pick a project.

A “cleanup” is a catch-all to refer to a number of different projects you can take on. Litter pick-up is just one option, but your choice may depend on the state of your neighborhood or what you think needs work. Does your community need a green space? Plant a garden. Does a local playground need to be spruced up? Organize a painting project. Is there a body of water, like a small lake or pond, that needs some refreshing? Set up a time for trash removal from these places. It’s up to you and your neighbors!

2- Create a plan and set up the basics.

Beyond the time, date, place, and type of project you’re taking on, there are a few details you may want to iron out before getting people to commit to your volunteering opportunity.
If the location isn’t well-known, find an easier-to-find meeting spot.

Set a target number of volunteers.

Outline the day, the kind of work that needs to be done, and the number of people needed in each task group (if applicable).

Make a list of supplies you need, including a first aid kit.

Make a list or organizations or government bodies you need to contact in order to get permission, permits, or licenses for your project, if necessary.

Prepare waivers and have a plan in the event of an emergency.

Outline any events that may occur after the clean-up.

3- Pick a captain.

If you don’t plan on being the ringleader of such an undertaking, find someone who is willing to be the leader of the project. This person should be lively and able to inspire others to make a difference in their community, no matter how small.

4- Advertise and recruit volunteers.

Once you’ve planned out the timeline of the event, it’s time to take action! Advertise all over your neighborhood with flyers, on online community forums, and on social media. You can even go door-to-door, recruiting people in person! Ask to advertise on school message boards, at the local public library, in local businesses, and the community center. This way, you may encourage kids and adults alike to do their part to help keep their home beautiful!

5- Get supplies.

If possible, ask for donated supplies and funds. If the tools you need can be found in almost any homeowner’s garage, you can also ask volunteers to bring what they already own. You will probably have to spend some money in order to get the project started, but you can limit how much you spend out-of-pocket by estimating costs and asking local businesses to donate the funds or the items themselves in exchange for promotion at the event.

6- Assign responsibility for clean-up.

Once the project is underway, you will surely quickly accumulate trash and debris. Plan for its disposal! Know where you should be discarding your debris according to the material. If possible, get a service to appropriately dispose of the trash. You may also want to contact the local government to see if they can schedule a truck to pick up the debris after the event is over. You can also consider renting a dumpster.

7- Plan a party.

Don’t forget to reward all the people who will come out and make this project such a success! Have some shirts commemorating the project made, or have a pizza party with a raffle giveaway afterward. Volunteers will appreciate you acknowledging their efforts the same way you will appreciate their help beautifying the neighborhood for everyone! Most importantly, it may encourage them to come back as a volunteer the next time you choose to organize another project.

While beautifying and cleaning up your neighborhood is a great initiative to take, the benefits of a clean-up extend far beyond the appearance of your community: it’ll allow you to bond with your neighbors, make new friends, and get to know your home!

Sophie Kaemmerle is Communications Manager at NeighborWho. NeighborWho’s mission is simply to help you better understand your neighborhood. Learn about your neighbors, the houses on your street, current and past owners, access property reports and look up public records. Public records are aggregated to compile in-depth reports on properties & people—NeighborWho provides a wealth of information at your fingertips.