1. Get Started

Pick Up Pennsylvania is part of the national Great American Cleanup from March 1st through May 31st. Communities are asked to organize and conduct local cleanups – recruit volunteers, promote your event, and report your results for inclusion in statewide and national cleanup totals.

Every cleanup matters when it comes to keeping Pennsylvania beautiful, so whether your event is large or small, your support is appreciated!

Business and trade organizations, state government agencies, environmental and civic organizations, and many others, have all volunteered to assist local communities with conducting successful and safe cleanups.

  • PennDOT’s county offices will provide free cleanup supplies, including gloves, safety vests and trash bags to registered cleanup groups, as supplies last. Find PennDOT contacts
  • Environmental and civic groups will provide answers and assistance in organizing and preparing your cleanup. Find local contacts.

Types of Events

  • Litter Cleanup – these are the most common types of Pick Up Pennsylvania events. Grab your neighbors and friends and join in!
  • Illegal Dump Cleanup Event – Is your group going to cleanup an illegal dumpsite? Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful has a publication that will be useful for your group. Guidelines for Illegal Dump Cleanups; 10 Steps to Organizing an Illegal Dump Cleanup provides step by step direction, from surveying the site to long-term maintenance. Click here to download a copy.
  • Beautification Event – your event can be the creation of a community garden, a tree or flower planting, or an outdoor classroom.
  • Recycling Event – you can plan a hard to recycle items collection event near you. link to special collection guidelines. Also link to tire collection guidelines.
  • Education Event – these events are eligible for Pick Up Pennsylvania too! Register and report your booth, tabling event, or educational workshop.

Tips for Organizing a Cleanup in Your Community

  • Register – Registered Cleanup Groups can order free supplies courtesy of PennDOT. Registered groups can also report the results of their cleanups to Pick Up Pennsylvania’s website to have their collection added to the statewide and nationwide totals.
  • Find Volunteers – Scouts, Local Civic Clubs, High-School Environmental and Service Clubs, Church Youth Groups, Sports Teams – will all offer enthusiastic support. Many scouting and service clubs are always looking for opportunities to earn badges and other credits. Contact the leaders of these organizations and find out what they are willing to do. Invite them to meet informally to brainstorm cleanup ideas for your community. Once you get them together, you now have people who can be called on to help you organize and carry out the cleanup.
  • Get your Local Government Involved – Invite representatives of your local municipal government, police, public works crews, and the local fire department in your brainstorming sessions. At the very least, make sure local officials and police are aware of where and when you will be conducting your cleanup. Ask your local police for traffic and public safety assistance. If you live in a community that does not have local police protection, contact your local State Police barracks for assistance. Local government may offer to provide collection and disposal of trash your group collects.
  • Create a Realistic Cleanup Plan and Conduct a Thorough Site Survey BEFORE cleanup day.
    • Visit the site you plan to clean and make sure you will have the people and equipment to conduct the cleanup. Appliances, tires, batteries and chemicals can be difficult to dispose of. For the most up-to-date list of electronic recycling resources, visit the PA DEP Electronics Recycling Collection Program Website. You can also call the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Recycling Hotline at 1-800-346-4242. Make sure you have a place to dispose of these items. Many counties offer Hazardous Household Waste, White Good and Tire collection events. Contact your County Recycling Coordinator for more information. If your county has a KAB affiliate or a KPB affiliate, they can be used as a resource as well.
    • If your event is planned for public property such as a park, make sure you have the necessary permissions. Be aware of private property and get permission from landowners before going on their land. If you plan to clean along a state highway, contact your local PennDOT office for information. Make sure you have safe parking and gathering areas for your volunteers. Roadside litter cleanups can be dangerous. Review safety information below. Do not open coolers, jugs, bottles and other sealed containers. Report any suspicious or dangerous items to police immediately. Make sure children are not left unattended near highways, water or illegal dumps.

  • How to Handle Electronics During Community Cleanups
    Due to the on-going challenges with implementation of Act 108, The Covered Device Recycling Act, many communities are seeing fewer and fewer options for proper disposal of electronics. Under the current law, these materials cannot go to the landfill. As spring cleanup season quickly approaches, we recommend the following:

    1. When organizing a cleanup, please remember to plan for proper disposal of any electronics that are found. The Covered Device Recycling Act (Act 108 of 2010) bans many covered devices from landfills. There is NO exemption for electronics found during cleanups; these materials cannot be taken to the landfill. For information about electronics recycling and local recycling options for these items, please contact your County Recycling Coordinator.
    2. If no outlet is identified, community cleanup coordinators are encouraged to contact processors directly in their community and ask if they will take these materials. Some may be able to do so for free, others for a fee, some may not take them at all due to the condition of the material.
    3. If there are no outlets, contact your municipality to see if they are willing to handle and/or store the material until an outlet opens up in the community. Some municipalities may be willing to absorb the cost of processing the materials – others may not. Some may be able to store them, others may not.
    4. If there are no outlets, no processor or municipality willing or able to assist, there is little else volunteers can do other than leave the material where it is found. Please make a note of the location, and once the law is fixed, retrieve the material for proper disposal as soon as possible.
    5. While some volunteers may wish to take the materials home with them and store the materials themselves, this is a tremendous risk to their safety due to the condition of the material as it is likely that there will be broken glass and potential metal contaminates.

    We understand that this is not ideal, but please know we are working with our partners and stakeholders to address these challenges and find a workable solution to address the Covered Device Recycling Act.

  • Promote Your Event – Most local media outlets are more than willing to promote community events. Notify your local newspapers, TV and radio stations. If you are uncomfortable talking with reporters, find a volunteer who will take on that responsibility. Contact local schools, churches and community newsletters to have your information published. Download and print posters and get volunteers to help distribute them to schools, local businesses like coffee shops and other public places.
  • Find Local Sponsors – Local businesses may wish to donate cleanup supplies, refreshments, transportation or provide a cleanup team to compete against other companies. Others may wish to pay for advertising or promotional items. Challenge your local business community to make a difference.
  • Organize Cleanup Teams – Volunteer groups should select a Team Leader. Leaders should thoroughly review cleanup safety information and discuss safety with team members, make sure the team gathers at the appropriate place and that vehicles are well off roadways, distribute cleanup supplies, and oversee the team’s cleanup efforts.
  • Be Prepared for a Big Turnout – People throughout Pennsylvania recognize that litter is more than a nuisance. Litter is dangerous to people and animals, it is expensive to clean up, hurts property values, and erodes our sense of community pride.

2. Promote Your Event

See our Promotional Tool Kit on the Supplies and Resources sidebar.

3. Get Supplies

See our list of Supplies and Resources.

4. Trash Disposal (If you can not dispose of the trash yourself)

  • State maintained roadways (roads in which PennDOT plows and maintains) we suggest working with the local PennDOT office to coordinate the pick up and disposal of collected trash from the cleanup.
  • Locally maintained roadways (roads in which the county, city, township or borough plows and maintains) we suggest working the local governing body and the public works or street departments to coordinate the pick up and disposal of collected trash from the cleanup.
  • Trails and Parks, we suggest contacting trail group, park office or local government where trail is located to coordinate the pick up and disposal of collected trash from the cleanup.

Always coordinate trash pickup and disposal before starting your cleanup.

5. Safety

  • Involve your local government and police in your cleanup, and make sure they are aware of your plans. Let them know where you will be, and when you plan to be there. They may be able to assist you with parking, traffic and other safety concerns.
  • If you live in a community that does not have local police protection, contact your local State Police barracks for assistance.
  • Be aware of private property, and get permission from landowners before going on their land.
  • Organize into teams, and have team leaders become familiar with cleanup safety information.
  • Roadside litter can be dangerous. Do not open coolers, jugs, bottles and other sealed containers.
  • Make sure volunteers wear gloves, appropriate clothing, and safety gear.
  • Please be aware that some lands may be open for hunting or trapping even on some Sundays. For current seasons and dates for your cleanup location, visit the PA Game Commission for the most up-to-date info.
  • Report any suspicious or dangerous items to police immediately.
  • Make sure children are not left unattended near highways or water.
  • For volunteer safety, please inform your volunteers prior to your cleanup what remnants of a meth lab contain. Download the “Meth Labs: A Recipe for Disaster” pdf file here.

6. Have a GREAT Cleanup

View photos from previous successful events.

7. Register and Report Your Results

After reading all the information on this page, are you:

Ready to get started?