120421-N-ZI955-081 MISAWA, Japan (April 21, 2012) Chief Yeoman Ken Vinoya, center, helps gather trash at the Misawa Fish Port. Misawa Air Base service members and family took part in an Earth Day cleanup in the local community, and helped remove several tons of refuse. (U.S. Navy Photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford/Released)

During the month of April, Earth Day Network is helping to coordinate events to clean up green spaces, urban landscapes, and waterways. Your PTA can organize a clean up event for your school’s grounds or a nearby park, or you can join an existing clean up event. If doing your own event, don’t forget to take before and after pictures and share them with the #TrashTaghashtag.

To organize your clean up event, make sure you take the following steps:

  1. Pick a location.This can be your school grounds, a nearby park, or other green space.
  2. Get permission.If cleaning up the school grounds, talk with your principal. For other locations, get permission from the organization responsible for that property (e.g., the park district).
  3. Set a date.Earth Day is April 22nd(a Monday this year), so consider a day the weekend before or after. Don’t forget to set a rain date.
  4. Publicize your event.Consider using MemberHub sign-ups so you know who is coming and have a way to quickly get out the word on a rainout and send reminders about what to bring.
  5. Ask for donations.Local hardware stores may be willing to donate garbage bags or gloves. A local restaurant may donate bagels, coffee, and juice for a morning event or snacks for an afternoon event. A waste hauling company or your city public works might be willing to swing by at the end of your event to pick up the collected trash.
  6. Make sure everyone knows the rules.This is a bit more complicated when kids are involved because waste pick up can involve heavy items; sharp items like broken glass, jagged metal, or needles; and potentially hazardous items. Because of the potential dangers, everyone should wear heavy gloves when picking up trash. Every child should be accompanied by an adult, preferably a family member. Children should not touch anything potentially dangerous and simply call an adult over. Have several adults remove heavy objects together.
  7. Share your work.Be sure to take lots of before and after pictures and share them with the #TrashTag
  8. Show your appreciation.Give a big thanks to your participants. Highlight things like how many people helped with the clean up and how many bags of trash were picked up. Share that information with all of your PTA members, and don’t forget to thank businesses that donated items for their support.

Photo courtesy of the US Navyby Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford.