Community Cleanup

Congratulations for taking action! Keeping our neighborhoods clean and healthy is important not just for our families, but for all living creatures around. Less litter means less risk for wildlife and less trash polluting water bodies. In case you need volunteers for organizing your own cleanup or you just wish to contact your Area Leader to volunteer yourself (or your group) please email us at info@keeploudounbeautiful.org. We welcome families, schools, scout troops and other community service organizations.

How to conduct a Community Cleanup

For starters, we encourage you to contact your KLB area leader or the area leader coordinator to see if they may be able to help by loaning supplies for your cleanup efforts and/or soliciting additional volunteers.  This also helps KLB obtain statistical information via a cleanup report to show the work being done in your community.  If there is currently not an area leader for your location, or you are interested in becoming an area leader, please email the area leader coordinator or info@keeploudounbeautiful.org

Litter Cleanup Equipment you will need

  • Gloves: To protect your hands
  • Vests: To make you visible, especially along roads
  • Grabbers: To retrieve hard-to-reach litter
  • Color coded bags so you can separate trash, plastic bags and recycling. We suggest:
    • Blue Bags: For Recycling (Plastics, Metals, Glass, Paper)
    • Clear Bags: For plastic bags & wraps  (Like the plastic that comes with your napkins) You don´t need to buy new ones for this, any trash bag or disposable shopping bag you find stuck in a bush or tree will work. Let’s Reuse!)
    • Orange or Black Bags: For Trash (Everything else)

Since most of what you will collect will be recycling, carry 2 blue bags for every orange bag and just get 1 clear bag per group for plastic bags and wraps (In case you are planning in taking them to the proper place to be recycled, if not, just put them with the trash)

Why do we encourage you to use multiple colored bags?

Because most litter these days can be recycled, so separating trash from recycling will reduce drastically the amount of trash that will end in landfills with no further use. Using different colors will help you to separate it while picking it up. 

If you are still hesitant about this, here is a document that will help you understand in great detail the benefits of it:

Reasons to recycle at Litter Cleanups

Illustration of circular economy

2018 Litter Cleanup Results

Choose your cleanup style:

  • You could collect and put the trash and recycling in separate bags as described before. Working in teams is helpful here as team members can be in charge of disposing properly each color.
  • If the overall litter amount isn’t too overwhelming, you could collect everything in any bag. When done, dump everything out and separate recycling, trash and plastic bags & wraps. It really doesn’t take that much extra time and makes the collection easier
  • If these suggestions are not practical due to the amount of litter collected, then you could make prior arrangements with some organization like KLB or any other pro-recycling organization to schedule a post-cleanup recycling sweep before VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) pick up the orange bags with the trash. Note that VDOT doesn’t care about the bag color and will toss everything into the landfill. That means all your hard work separating trash from recycling will be wasted if you leave your blue bags to be collected by them.

So, what do I do with the recycling bags?

  • First of all, in order to reduce their weight and volume, we suggest to empty the residual contents of cans and bottles and crush them.
  • Move all the trash into as little bags as possible to save them for future cleanups. Less unnecesary plastic to our planet!
  • To dispose just a small amount, we recommend to take it with you and toss it loose into your recycling bin (residential recycling encourages not to bag their recycling)
  • To dispose bigger amounts; you can take the bags to the nearest Recycling Drop-Off Center. https://www.loudoun.gov/404/Recycling-Centers-Materials-Accepted

…and with the trash bags?

  • Leave the orange bags along the roadside, well back from the pavement or road surface, in small piles; don’t use driveways or private property.  Try to avoid large piles of collected litter, as it could encourage unauthorized additions and dumping.  Small scattered piles along the roadside are preferred by VDOT.
  • Take note of the location so you can inform clearly to VDOT 
  • Notify the local VDOT office before a pickup so bag removal can be scheduled for the following workday. https://www.virginiadot.org/programs/prog-aah-report.asp

Final Notes

  • Dry and “fairly clean” plastic bags need to be taken to your nearest collection center (Usually located at grocery stores like Giant or HT) If they are totally muddy, it’s better to place them with trash so they don’t contaminate the rest of the bags
  • Electronics and large, unwieldy items must be recycled separately. PLEASE DO NOT BAG THEM. (Recycling opportunities here)
  • Please consolidate all bags you used and keep the dirty ones for the next cleanup
  • Educating our communities is the best way to prevent littering. Here is an educational document we prepared, so you can share it with them: Litter Prevention
  • If you have any questions, please contact us to info@keeploudounbeautiful.org. We will be happy to help you!