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Cleaning Up Your Neighbourhood

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 17 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Community Neighbourhood Clean Up Council

In too many ways we’re a nation of litterers. There might be litter bans all over the place but you still see wrappers, cans, bottles and all sorts thrown on the pavement and the grass. Dog fouling laws don’t seem to make some dog owners clean up after their pooches.Litter can make a neighbourhood look depressed and run down. So what can you do about it?

Organising a Cleanup

The first thing is to bring together a group of volunteers. Recruit people you know, bring in relatives, friends of friends, your kids, their friends – it’s especially important to recruit young people, since the young are often among the worst littering offenders.

Set a date for the cleanup, on a weekend, and hope for good weather. Make sure you set it well ahead, so people can’t say “Oh, I have other plans then.” But there’s another good reason for a long lead time – it gives you ample chance to contact the council.

That’s important. They can provide litter pickers, gloves, bags, reflective jackets, all the items you’ll need for your cleanup. They can also advise on insurance and pick up all the litter you collect. If there’s fly-tipping in your neighbourhood, they can also haul that away.

On the day, split people into groups and give them a specific and very manageable area to cover. Working together, it probably won’t take too long to have a clean neighbourhood.Provide drinks and snacks for the volunteers. In all likelihood you can get a local shop to provide these. After all, it’s also in their interests to have a clean neighbourhood, too.Don’t try and cover too large an area. It’s better to thoroughly clean a small area than just do half a job on somewhere bigger.


Bridges, underpasses and abandoned buildings are major targets for graffiti artists. The council can clean those up – they say they’ll come quickly but you might need to be persistent – as they have the equipment. But you can help keep the neighbourhood graffiti free by identifying the vandals and informing on them. If that seems extreme, think of how much better the place will seem without graffiti around.


If you have some waste ground, once it’s been cleaned, why not plant some flower beds there? You might well be able to persuade a garden centre to donate plants, and it should be easy enough to find those willing to help put them in the ground.It beautifies the neighbourhood and gives everyone a sense of pride. Of course, it will need regular weeding, watering and tending, but again, it should be easy to find volunteers.

After the Cleanup

Once you’ve cleaned up your neighbourhood, the trick is to keep it clean rather than let it gradually become full of litter again. That just defeats the whole point.You need follow-through. That means regular litter patrols by you and other volunteers, but also some vigilance and a sense of pride and education that encourages people not to litter in the neighbourhood. Petition the council to provide an adequate number of litter bins to and empty them regularly.

It takes work, and some organisation, but you can help clean up your neighbourhood and keep it clean for a much more pleasant place.

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