Controlling Litter in Your Neighborhood

Sign advising that littering is illegal




Organizing a neighborhood cleanup is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors and beautify the community at the same time. As you think about recruiting fellow volunteers for your event, remember that you can always get fliers and newsletters that advertise your cleanup printed for free by Neighborhood Services at the County Complex in Woodbridge. We have flier templates which can be customized to your neighborhood and cleanup date.

First, be clear on the objectives for your cleanup so you can make the proper arrangements. There are different kinds of cleanups you can consider doing at various times during the year that require different materials, different promotions, and even different kinds of volunteers. Be clear about what your cleanup objective is, who you want or need to participate and how you will dispose of the litter, junk, hazardous materials or recyclables collected.



If you are planning an opportunity for residents to dispose of household or backyard junk and clutter you will need to arrange a dumpster for your event, preferably a large container called a “roll-off dumpster.”

  • One option is to coordinate your cleanup day with the free dumpster that is offered at County Dumpster Days. Dumpster Days are held at central locations in different areas of the County during the Spring or Fall. Some of these events also may also include free document shredding. Click here for the latest schedule!

  • If you want to arrange a dumpster cleanup accessible to your neighborhood residents only, you need to work with a local waste hauler. Keep Prince William Beautiful can help you by providing trash bags, gloves, and reimbursement for the accepted contents of your dumpster to be disposed of at the County landfill through their KPWB Refuse Hauler Reimbursement Program.


web-Community-Cleanup-15.jpgLitter Pickup Events in Neighborhoods/Roadways/Nature

  • If you are doing a litter pickup event adjacent to a roadway, in a common area, or if you are doing a riverside, stream, hiking trail/wilderness area clean up you will need trash bags, gloves and perhaps safety vests that may be available through Keep Prince William Beautiful. You will need to arrange collection locations for filled litter bags and bulky items and a way to have these items picked up or dropped off.
  • You can make arrangements in advance to have the County Litter Crew to pick up your bags on the same or next business day after your event. Contact us at 703-792-7018 for more details.

More on Arranging Dumpsters for a Cleanup Event

Cleanup PWC.JPGIf your community can coordinate with the County Dumpster Day events that are scheduled for your area with free County supplied dumpsters provided by the County, you will have no dumpster or disposal costs. To hold a dumpster cleanup confined only to your neighborhood or natural resource area, follow these tips. Contact Keep Prince William Beautiful (KPWB) and participate in their Refuse Hauler Reimbursement Program for a reimbursement of the accepted disposed contents of your cleanup at the County Landfill. Then, contact multiple garbage companies to get the best price for a cleanup day roll-off container (and don’t forget to mention the landfill voucher from KPWB.) Also remember when negotiating for dumpsters that 1-3 roll off dumpsters may be needed for an all-day event depending on the area or number of homes in your community.


Location and Timing for Your Cleanup Event

  • Cleanup.gifLocate a site (a common area, parking lot, local school, church, or other large, paved area) large enough to accommodate roll-off containers and traffic flow. Make absolutely sure you get permission to hold your drop-off event there from the property owner.

  • Arrange to complete the event (both items drop offs and the removal of the dumpster) in the same day. Roll-off dumpsters left in your community unattended overnight become may attract nuisances and dumpers who will dispose of items without oversight.

  • Remember also to have appropriate signage directing traffic in and out of the location, and make sure any temporary signs are removed after the event.



Tasks you can assign volunteers to work on include:

  • Supervising to see that items deposited in the roll-off containers are appropriate.

  • Supervising traffic control during the event, especially when roll-off containers are delivered and removed.

  • Requesting and collecting any monetary donations that neighbors can provide to help offset the cost of the cleanup.

  • Assisting participants to unload their vehicles when necessary.

  • Coordinating a "swap and drop" (should you choose to offer one), including monitoring items to ensure they are of suitable quality for exchange or reuse, and coordinating a charity organization to pick up the unwanted items at the end of the event.

  • Supervising cleanup of the location after the event. Remember to leave it cleaner than you found it.


  • First, gather data on how much you collected and what kinds of material you found. It can be used in both follow-ups press releases and future promotions. It also helps you plan proactively to prevent clutter and litter.

  • Second, consider organizing a social event for everyone at the end of the cleanup or on another day soon thereafter. Volunteers like being thanked and they deserve praise!

  • Use this event to organize others: Leaf pick-ups in the fall or recyclable/hazardous waste collection events are always helpful. Some trash haulers offer free services for these events because they can earn revenue for the material. Mixed paper is a great example.

  • Check with waste haulers about special events like these while making future neighborhood clean-up plans.