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Organizing a Cleanup: An Article Written by the Next Generation of Movers and Shakers

We can all make a difference!

Published on: April 26, 2023

Three elementary kids holding buckets cleaning up an outdoor area
Arlo, Max and Vivian Pearl. Photo credit: The Evergreen School

Looking for a little inspiration today? Well, you’ve found it!

The following article is written by three fifth-grade students from The Evergreen School. Arlo, Max and Vivian Pearl have been learning about the Salish Sea Watershed, which includes Puget Sound, and decided they wanted to tackle the issue of pollution. They are organizing a cleanup for a nearby pond and hope to encourage others to do something similar in their own communities. Check out what they’ve learned and their action plan below, and consider organizing your own event today.

Organizing a Cleanup

by Arlo, Max and Vivian Pearl

Why park area cleanups are important

Ecosystems become damaged from human activities that end up polluting areas like streams, parks and other habitats, so we need to help those areas.

Park and stream cleanups are important because pieces of trash can pollute our local streams, rivers and oceans. You can help prevent our animal friends, such as salmon, from being harmed by this trash. 

Salmon tend to die from pollution, such as stormwater runoff, before they can reproduce. Stormwater runoff is rainwater that collects all of the pollutants, waste and much more from our streets and sidewalks, and drains it into our oceans. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 42 percent of younger steelhead die from pollutants before they can reproduce.

Salmon have a large impact on food chains, especially on bears and birds. Park area cleanups are an entertaining and great activity for kids and people of all ages who want to help our ecosystems.

A fun poster is another way to recruit people to join your cleanup event.

How to arrange a local cleanup party

When we noticed the trash on the streets and in the ponds, we decided to take action, and you can, too! Well, we’re here to tell you about how to host a cleanup party yourself!

First, you’ll need supplies. We’re using trash bags to put the trash in, gloves to pick up the trash, and grabbers if you don’t want to use your hands.

You also need a general location to pick up trash. We picked Twin Pounds Park, which is close to our school. If you don’t have a park or public area nearby to pick up trash at, you can try your school campus, but make sure to ask your teacher first to discuss a good time. You can also pick up trash on the streets, around town or any other place you want.

Second, you’ll need people to help pick up trash and you might need a chaperone if you’re too young to go alone. We advise sending out a form to people you know or people you would like to join you. You will want to tell them things such as the time, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and if they would like to join you. If you need a chaperone, find a trusted adult to ask.

Third, you will want a plan. We have a paper with list of the things we need, where we’ll get them, and when and how we’re doing it.

Just a reminder: when you’re picking up trash, wear gloves even if you are using grabbers. If you’re picking up trash with your bare hands, it’s possible for it to have chemicals, oils or other toxins on it, and these things can be bad for your skin.

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