Litter Pick Up Guide

Kim Shoemaker
3 min readApr 24, 2021


Beautify Your Community

Brief Guide for Cleaning Up The Neighborhood

Collected Trash with Pick Up Tool

Although it may seem obvious, there are several factors to be aware of when picking up litter in the neighborhood. Here are some basic tips for those who want to get involved.

Necessary Gear

Wear comfortable shoes and bright colored clothes appropriate for the weather conditions. Consider wearing a reflective safety vest if working along a roadside or near traffic. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin. Bring gloves to avoid any cuts or exposure to foreign items. Bring trash bags or buckets to collect items. It is recommended to use a reach extender (aka a pick-up stick, grabbing tool, grabber arm, helping hand, etc) to pick up items to avoid unnecessary strain on the back- use proper form (squat or lunge) to pick items up from the ground if not using a tool.

Items to avoid- Call 3–1–1 to report items

· Broken, sharp items (including syringes/needles)

· Hazardous waste, including human waste (biohazard)

· Abandoned barrels

· Unidentifiable, bulging, dented or other chemical containers (including paint, antifreeze, pesticides & herbicides)

· Containers leaking unknown substances

· Petroleum products (Propane cylinders, gas cans or oil containers)

· Automotive batteries

· Weapons

· Dead animals

Glass Pick Up


· Your safety is the most important thing- be mindful of your surroundings & ensure you are not endangering yourself or others. Always assess the situational risk in your activities

· If possible, find other people to clean up litter. The truism that there is safety in numbers is applicable for cleaning up litter, especially along roadsides.

o Included in the references & resources is a very comprehensive pdf with all the information necessary for creating a community clean up event.

· Avoid overfilling bags

· If possible, sort out recyclables from trash; however, keep in mind that recyclable items should be rinsed & uncontaminated from food. Bring multiple bags for separating out items, such as cardboard, paper, glass, metal & clean plastic. A tarp could be useful for a group to be able to sort out items after collecting them.

· Remember to take a few photos to document the effort & publicize your effort on social media! Frequently there are live streams of people collecting trash on Reddit; let’s push for normalizing picking up litter on a larger scale.

References & Resources: — Comprehensive guide for organizing a litter clean up activity with the community (community information specific to Kansas City, MO. A website to find recycling centers (USA only) A reference for electronic recycling (global,/33 countries)



Kim Shoemaker

Geophysicist every other month; adventurer, hiker, beer drinker during time off. Writing is a hobby needing more consistent practice.