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Pick it Up - Clean Up Your City!

Updated on February 13, 2012

Three out of four motorists say they have seen trash thrown out of a vehicle, yet only one in ten admits to littering from their vehicle.



Litter cleanup costs the U.S. almost $11.5 billion each year, with businesses paying $9.1 billion. Governments, schools, and other organizations pick up the remainder.


More of a suggestion than a command, but I can't count how many times I've been driving along and noticed how much trash is scattered about along the side of the road. As I drive by I always find myself thinking, Who does that? Who are these people that just toss trash out of the window? Somebody should clean that up. That someone should be me, and you.

You may be thinking, But I don't litter! and I believe you. Most of us are good citizens who don't knowingly throw our styrofoam drink containers out of the car window when we're finished. So I suggest, and it is only a suggestion, that we take a saturday morning out of our busy lives and spend a few hours picking up other people's trash on the side of the road.

Sound like fun? Okay, let's organize.

First of all, I'm not doing this in an attempt to go green or save the planet. That is great and all, but my motives are strictly selfish. I just don't like to look at trash. Unless you're Oscar the Grouch, I'm assuming you don't like it either. I'm not a fan of trash strewn up and down our neighborhoods, it's a bad look. So here's what we can do. With these easy steps we can get this mess cleaned up!

  1. Don't Litter. If you are one of those awful litterbugs, please stop. If people don't litter, we won't have to pick it up.

  2. Organize. Try to get your friends to help. If you're like me, this may take some finagling. Tell them you have community service and need some help. Buy them a few beers afterwards. Or, if you have kids, just force them to help.

  3. Start local. Start with your own neigborhood, this is the one you are going to see the most anyway. If it is a success, branch out to other sections of town.

  4. Call your city. Some cities will even provide you with supplies. Free help is hard to turn down these days, why not see if the city will supply the bags or reflective vest?

  5. Post an ad. Post on Craigslist, or if you're really ambitious, start a clean up group on facebook. I know what you're thinking Post an ad to pick up trash....just for fun. But people love a good cause, you may be surprised. Call it a Clean up Party or something fun and see if anyone shows up. You may even meet some new friends.

  6. Have a Plan. Make sure you know where all of this trash is going, in my town, each citizen is allowed one trip to the landfill each month.

  7. Wear gloves. The things you'll find....
  8. Have fun. Picking up trash isn't on most people's lists of fun ways to spend a Saturday so get creative. Have a good attitude and laugh.

According to the Keep America Beautiful website, cigarrette buts are the most littered objects, followed by paper products and then plastic. Picking up other people's discarded cigarettes may not sound appealing, but as you start to see the effects of your efforts, hopefully you won't feel like you've wasted your time.

This is not a glamourous endeavor. There is no paycheck to be received, and you may not get a key to your city for your hard work, but I hope this has inspired a couple people to join in and take part in an effort to clean up our streets. With all of the budget cuts and stretches effecting almost every city, your local government may not be able to keep your community as clean as you would like. I'm not just writing this, I'm willing to do my part, I will update here with my own efforts in my town.

We need to do our part and pitch in, after all it's you that has to live there--no wait, only you can prevent--nope, that's taken. If you clean it, more will come--that won't work... Litter, it belongs to everyone. There, we may have a slogan!

Besides the instant gratification of seeing a clean street, there are other rewards that come with this simple task. A sense of pride, a community coming together, and being able to drive down the street without seeing plastic grocery bags or wayward napkins scattered along the bustop to name a few. I will now step off my soapbox and start getting my hands dirty. I hope you can join me..


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    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      I'll bet colpolbear, it's just so annoying!

      Great idea poetvix, thanks!

      Very cool jenubouka, it seems the kids may be better about this than the adults.

      Thanks for commenting guys!

    • profile image

      jenubouka 5 years ago

      Well done and I couldn't agree more. It throttles me when I see debris all over the place, especially my front yard. Yes, people will throw very random garbage on the lawn as they are driving down the street, it drives me insane. Just the other day I saw a guy throw his plastic bottle on the ground heading to the store with three garbage cans!! I said "It's okay man, my kid's generation will figure out how to recycle both garbage and stupidity.

      There is a kid featured on a program where he delivered usable bags around the neighborhood and the people would toss aluminum, plastic, and glass, give him a call and he would pick them up and recycle them. The real incredible part was using the money to feed his local food bank. Now, if a 16 year old kid can do it, we should all be able too.

    • poetvix profile image

      poetvix 5 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

      You go! It's nice to see corrective action with a complaint. This is a great idea. For the kids, I bet they could count this as a community involvement/service act on scholarship applications as well.

    • colpolbear profile image

      colpolbear 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Oh, how I do agree with you. I once drove behind an ignorant driver who littered. It turned out to be someone I know. Needless to say, I publicly humiliated him :)

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Agreed lisa, but it's a mess out there!

    • profile image 5 years ago

      It's a shame that an article needs to written on this subject. Thanks for bringing it up. Unfortunately, it needs to be said.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Wow, that's just wrong! I hate sitting at a stop light and staring at all of the trash, right beside the trash can...Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Well done Weestro! Don't pollute and don't be a litterbug. I have to say the worst litter I've seen are baby's diapers. Ewwww. How inconsiderate and rude! Find a trash can. Voted UP and awesome!