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The First Step Is To Reduce

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Your own neighborhood is a good place to start saving the planet. Why not organize a neighborhood cleanup day as a way to meet your neighbors and start some local environmental action with them?

Plan Ahead of Time:

  • Pick an early spring day when the weather is warm but people haven't become heavily involved in other outdoor activities yet.
  • Contact the neighbors and invite them.
  • Get a few to help you with preparations.
  • Locate an area which you can use to sort garbage and recyclables.
  • Round up boxes in which to sort recyclables such as soft-drink cans, glass jars, fine paper and newsprint, plastic, aluminum, tin, plastic, resale items and other materials.
  • Also make sure there is a place to put compostable materials.
  • Have a trash bin available for things which cannot be recycled.
  • Arrange for a pickup truck to be available to haul the materials to the recycling center.
  • Make sure the local recycling center and landfill will be open for deliveries that day.
  • Round up bags for picking up trash, and tools such as rakes.

Clean-up Day:

  • Meet everyone at the appointed time, and enjoy getting acquainted over a cup of coffee.
  • Send everyone out to the streets, alleys, ditches and vacant lots to pick up garbage and do whatever they can to clean up the area.
  • Leave a few people in charge of accepting and sorting the trash as it comes in.
  • Encourage people to work together to help clean up one another's properties.
  • Get together at quitting time and enjoy some refreshments together.
  • Encourage discussion of how the neighborhood can work together to make the area more environmentally healthy.

Future Projects:

  • Set up a neighborhood recycling depot if your community does not have this service.
  • Run a twice-yearly neighborhood garage sale. The proceeds could go to the expenses of running other environmental projects through the year.
  • Make it a neighborhood priority to develop a kind of landscaping which uses little water and no pesticides.
  • Arrange to trade products such as leftover paint and chemicals so they do not go to the landfill site.
  • There are many recyclable products which are not handled by community curbside recycling programs. As a neighborhood, find out where you can take materials which might include batteries, tires, radiators, copper, iron, stainless steel, brass and many others. Consult the Yellow Pages for ideas.
  • If you have access to a vacant building in your neighborhood, consider setting up a combination free store and recycling depot. Everyone would drop off their unwanted household goods, supplies, furniture and clothing, and everyone else would help themselves to what they could use. Excess goods would be sold off in the twice annual garage sale open to the public. A family who is likely to be home a lot of the time would be in charge of the key to the building. Perhaps someone could donate the use of a garage to try out this project.
  • Take action together. If there are environmental problems affecting the neighborhood, roll up your sleeves and go to work together. This could be any job from putting new gravel in a fish-spawning creek to lobbying for legislative changes.

There are many things you can do for the environment right now in your own neighborhood. Why not get started by organizing a clean-up day?

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