How to start a community clean-up

Last updated: 4 May, 2021

Community clean-ups are brilliant because they: 

  • make an instant impact in a community 

  •  are an informal way for people to get together  

  • are a great way to get people thinking about the environment 

What you need

  • Litter pickers 

  • Protective gloves 

  • Bin bags and bags for recycling 

  • Bag hoops 

  • Rakes or shovels 

  • A safe container for sharp objects 

  • First aid kit 

  • Anti-bacterial wipes or hand sanitizer 

  • High visibility vests 

  • Luggage scales (for weighing litter) 

  • Wheelbarrow 

  • A camera 

  • Food and drink 

Ebay is a great place to look for litter pickers. They are pretty cheap. Also places like B&M Bargains tend to sell them at a reasonable price.

Wayne DixonCommunity litter picker in Leeds

Before the clean-up

1Choose your space

 This could be a local landmark or a hidden space you think needs some care and attention. Check with the landowner before the clean-up. Contact your local council to find out who owns the land if you’re not sure at gov.uk/find-local-council

2Arrange to get your rubbish collected.

Do it yourself at your local recycling centre. Or contact the council to arrange collection. Find your local council by postcode at gov.uk/find-local-council

3Get support from other groups and individuals

Look at this advice on finding support from local businesses and community groups

4Think about health and safety

 Consider: 

  • hygiene 

  • heavy lifting 

  • dangerous items (for example: syringes) 

  • natural dangers like derelict buildings or free flowing water 

Use this risk assessment template from Keep Britain Tidy. If you think an item is dangerous, poisonous or hazardous, contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60. 

5Get insurance

Public liability insurance will cover your legal liability from accidental damage or injury. This includes damage or injury to a member of the public or their property. You can get this from most insurers. 

6Ask your volunteers to wear suitable clothing

Get them to also bring protective gloves if they have any. 

7Organise a meeting place

 Make sure it’s easy for everyone to find. 

8Work out the nearest place for hot drinks and access to a toilet

 Ask a local community café if it’s OK to use their facilities. 

9Let your volunteers know what’s happening on the day

 Look at this advice on how to communicate with your volunteers

 

The council’s local cleaner neighbourhood teams supply bin bags for free to groups doing litter picks. You can get plain white ones with the council name on it or purple ones that have ‘community litter pick’ on them.

Brenda Barlow Friends of Hunslet Moor

On the day

1Transport your equipment to the meeting place

Get there a little earlier than your volunteers so you have everything ready. 

2Brief your volunteers

Get everyone together, hand out equipment and remind them of the tasks that need completing. 

We source most of our tools through community links. People attending community meetings and word of mouth. Heather the local Council Ranger is a great help as we have nowhere to store our tools, so we tend to borrow them.

Nigel PerryCommunity litter picker in Leeds 

After the clean-up

1Tell others about it

Look at this advice on promoting your activity

2Let everyone know how your clean-up went

Celebrate your success with others in the community. Share your story and we’ll include it on our website. 

I got in touch with another local group called Snicket Squad in my area who were able to lend me some of their equipment.

Susan Docherty Co-op Member Pioneer for Chapel Allerton

Make it for everyone

  • get as many adults as you can to join in so children can take part 

  • give people different roles so that everyone can get involved. For example, think of a job a disabled person can do. Make sure people are comfortable with whatever they’re doing 

  • make sure people can easily get to the space or area you want to clean up 

Useful websites

  • Keep Britain Tidy

    Well known environmental charity that campaigns to reduce litter, improve local spaces and prevent waste.

  • Litter Action

    A charity whose mission is to create stronger, safer communities by involving people in litter picking.

  • CleanupUK

    A charity that helps those most in need, usually in areas of deprivation, to deal with the litter problem where they are.

Share your story

Do you have a story about how your community has come together to support each other?

We'd love to share your story on our website to encourage other people to get or offer support.

Share your story

Find things to do and groups that support your community