Choosing a Site

  • Go there yourself to see if it needs a clean-up.
  • Check for any hazards that would prevent the clean-up from being safely held there.
  • Check for adequate parking.
  • Find out what agency is responsible for the area you’d like to clean-up. You’ll need their permission to conduct the event.


  • Contact the appropriate agency (state, city, or county) to get permission to do the clean-up. If it’s relatively small (25-50) people you usually won’t need any permits, but be sure to ask.
  • Find out where to place all the collected trash and who to call to pick it up. Ask for instructions about separating recyclables and having those collected as well.
  • Ask if the agency will provide gloves and bags - they often will.
  • Ask if the agency has or knows of any representatives that will give a talk to the students that day.
  • Be sure to ask about educational resources. Often there are rangers or docents that can speak to the participants about the local area and wildlife at no charge.
  • Find out if there is a group in your area that can help, such as the Surfrider Foundation, Keep America Beautiful, Waterkeepers, etc. They can help you get a bigger turnout and will often help with supplies.
  • If you are trying to get some media attention, notify local radio/tv/newspaper well in advance and remind them a few days and one day before the event.

What you’ll need:

  • Garbage bags
  • Plastic gloves
  • Trash data cards (download from this site)
  • Bins or trash cans to separate materials hat can be recycled
  • Scale (if desired to record how many pounds of trash were collected)
  • Paper towels or sanitizing hand wipes
  • Pencils and erasers
  • First aid kit
  • Cell phone
  • Sunscreen
  • Water if none is available on-site
  • A pop-up shade tent
  • Folding table
  • Liability waivers

Setting up headquarters on clean-up day:

  • Set up your shade tent with the table underneath.
  • Place liability waivers and trash data cards on table.
  • Have one adult at the "headquarters" at all times.
  • Set out bags, gloves, and water.
  • Designate an area for trash drop-off. You’ll need room for a weighing station, the bins for sorting out the recyclables, and an area for garbage. Make sure there is an adult in this area at all times to help direct people and keep track of the weight of everyone’s collected trash.

Conducting the clean-up:

  • Make sure to tell people what items are not safe to pick-up (syringes, needles, broken glass, ammunition, etc.)
  • Describe and point out the boundary lines that they are to stay within during the clean-up.
  • Tell people to go to the "headquarters" if anything is wrong or they have any questions.
  • Tell people to come back to the headquarters with their tally sheets and trash when they are done.
  • If you brought a scale, weigh all the trash before sorting and keep a running total.
  • Have adults sort trash into items that can be recycled and items that should be thrown away.
  • Collect all belongings and head out after a job well done!
  • Send your mailing address to PADI's Project Aware ( for a free CD on how to organize a clean up. Visit for more information.
  • Organize and execute the clean-up. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and