How to Organize a Neighborhood Cleanup
By Alyssa Cody, Programs & Communications Specialist
As the last of the winter's frost melts away, neighbors around Omaha emerge from hibernation to greet the long awaited spring warmth and sunshine. It's a happy time in the neighborhood as the colors become more vivid, flowers begin to bloom, and the air carries a buzz of summer excitement and new growth. However, as you take a walk around the block admiring all of this beauty, you may notice the blemishes that have occurred during the winter as well — storm drains clogged with last fall's leaves, litter strewn throughout the neighborhood, and pollutants making their home in public spaces. Rather than just noticing these issues, we challenge you to do something about it.
A litter cleanup is a great way to directly give back to your neighborhood, and it is most effective when neighbors organize together to reduce litter in your community. The mission of a litter cleanup is to make your neighborhood a safer, healthier, and more beautiful place for everyone to enjoy. With your leadership and our support, it's an easy service to do. Follow the steps below to organize your very own neighborhood cleanup:
- Identify a location in need. No one knows the needs of your neighborhood better than the people living there. Scope out the neighborhood yourself, and get input from neighbors at the neighborhood association meeting or through forums like NextDoor. Your cleanup can be at a park, vacant lot, a neighbor’s home in need, along a street, or all of the above. For recommendations, talk to Keep Omaha Beautiful about priority parks and areas.
- Set a date and time. Find a time to do the cleanup that may be optimal for the majority of people, such as evenings or weekend mornings.
- Recruit volunteers. Once you determine the date and location, recruit volunteers. Contact your neighborhood association, local schools, businesses, and churches. Talk to your neighbors, and post details on NextDoor.
- Obtain supplies. Keep Omaha Beautiful (KOB) loans out litter collection supplies year-round at no cost. Call 402-444-7774 or email HelloKOB@cityofomaha.org to register your cleanup and make an appointment to pick up trash and recycling bags, gloves, litter collection tools, and safety vests. If you want to take your cleanup a step further, KOB can also loan out supplies like yard waste bags, brooms, shovels, and more.
- Have a safe cleanup! If you’re walking along areas with a lot of car or bike traffic, be sure to wear a safety vest. Don’t volunteer past daylight hours. Send an adult with each group of minors. Do not handle hazardous materials such as gasoline, syringes, and batteries. Instead, note the location of these items and report it to the number provided in the resources section.
- Dispose of your litter. Dispose of your litter in a nearby park’s garbage can. If there is no room inside the garbage bin, place the bags securely around the bin and email a detailed location to HelloKOB@cityofomaha.org to ensure the park’s caretakers are notified to pick it up. Otherwise, ask area schools or businesses if you can dispose of it in their dumpsters. If you sort your litter into recyclables, which is recommended, you can take it to a city recycling drop-off site, listed on Wasteline.org, or put it in with your in-home recycling.
- Coordinate your cleanup with a social opportunity, such as a picnic potluck and games at the park after the service event.
- Take your commitment a step further and agree to conduct monthly cleanups through Keep Omaha Beautiful’s Adopt-A-Park program.
- Be mindful of storm drains as you’re doing your cleanup, and be sure to remove litter and debris in and around them. If you’d like to set up a Stormwater Pollution Prevention project in conjunction with your cleanup, contact Keep Omaha Beautiful.
Littering, Illegal Dumping, or Graffiti IN PROGRESS: Call 911 (Omaha Police)
Litter and Weed Complaints: 402.444.5910 (Parks & Recreation Code Enforcement)
Nuisance Vehicles (dead storage on street/lawn): 402.444.5555 (Mayor’s Hotline)
Report an Illegal Dumping Site: 402.444.5555 (Mayor’s Hotline)
Report Graffiti (private and public property): 402.444.5555 (Mayor’s Hotline)Trash/Recycling/Yardwaste Collection Issues: 402.444.5238 (Environmental Services)