Cleanup Drives: Planning for Your Next Environmental Campaign

Cleaning Up Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an ambitious project led by the non-profit The Ocean Cleanup, which developed a $20 million system to collect floating plastics and other trash found on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Although the initial deployment of the “System 001” in late 2018 had failed, this project is still one of your many inspirations to do environmental work.

Your organization is embarking on a major cleanup project in the city, and you’re the lead campaigner. You’ve participated in smaller initiatives like tidying up a neighborhood block or a trailer park community.

For this one? You need transporter trucks, several backhoes, and other heavy equipment to get the job done right. What will it take, and where does one start?

Reviewing the Basics

This isn’t your first barbecue. But for some of your colleagues, volunteers, local officials, and corporate sponsors, this might be their first.

Part of your early planning stages should be about providing the correct information and giving the necessary orientation to all the participants and stakeholders. Giving them a historical background of what a cleanup project is about might make them more motivated.

Garbage segregation bins

Clarifying the difference between trash and garbage, for example, might seem trivial, but this is essential information that they can use in their daily lives. Junk refers to smaller pieces of waste, like plastics, glass, cloth, wood, etc. They do not decay over a short-term period. Garbage, on the other hand, is waste from the kitchen and bathroom/toilet. It is more organic, and it rots more quickly. Examples of garbage are food, chemicals, oil, and dead animals.

Sharing the Vision

You don’t want to be a one-hit-wonder. After a project is done, move on.

Working for the environment is about sustainability. Make sure that this cleanup drive will be part of a broader program. While the project might be a pilot, you can begin exploring how the initiative can be expanded and sustained well into the future. 

The Devil Is in the Details

You don’t want anything to explode in your face right on the day itself. You need to plan the event down to the smallest detail from start to finish. Consider the following partial checklist:

  • Is it a suitable date to do the cleanup? What’s the weather forecast like?
  • Are all the volunteers accounted for?
  • Small logistics: hand gloves, rakes, trash bags, etc.
  • Significant logistics: Rentals like trucks, backhoes, and other vehicles and equipment.
  • Organizing the work. Are there teams that will work in specific areas?

You probably need to work with one or two key people with whom you can share the load.

Maximize Digital Tools and Corporate Partnerships

Business handshake

Big projects like this require plenty of resources. If you’re working for a non-profit, then it’s harder. If you work for a corporation wearing your CSR hat, then you’ll get some money but maybe not that much.

Leverage existing digital platforms toward raising the necessary funds. You have to do this very early on so that you can allow donors to contribute. The various crowdfunding platforms are an excellent resource.

You can partner with other businesses in the community. Maybe a fun run or a mini-concert will raise not only money but also awareness.

Seek corporate sponsorship. Eventbrite.com outlines ideas on how to create a list of possible sponsors, how to craft your proposal, and how to connect with the right person.

Understanding the purpose of your project, having a long-term vision, and seeking partnerships are just pocket ideas from where you can begin conceptualizing your event.