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Tips and Resources

20 Great Tips for Improving Your Community


(Courtesy of Keep America Beautiful)

  • Work with the local community groups to identify and eliminate eyesores, and beautify the local environment and create a community garden
  • Pick up a piece of litter every day.
  • Keep a litter bag in your car or your recreational vehicle so you dispose of litter properly.
  • Create a trash fishing contest in your waterway to increase awareness about illegal dumping and littering.
  • Adopt A Park, Bus Shelter or Lot
  • Help your local schools conduct recycling drives and clean-up projects.
  • Create a beautiful green space by planting trees and shrubs in an area in need of improvement.
  • Ask local businesses to adopt-a-spot and take care of it.
  • Paint and fix up playground equipment.
  • Organize a paint-out with family and friends, and create a community paintbrush mural over a wall of illegal graffiti.
  • Recycle your old tires.
  • Report graffiti to 311.
  • Donate your old computer equipment or dispose of it properly.
  • Conduct a recycling drive in your neighborhood or your business.
  • Volunteer to help your employer conduct paper recycling drives at work.
  • Donate gently used clothes to needy organizations and shelters and identify other items that you can reuse.
  • Compost yard and food waste and seek advice if you don’t know how.
  • Find out how pollution in stormdrain runoff can impact our aquifers and ecosystems, and be passionate about doing your part to reduce litter and solid waste.
  • Support Motor City Makeover and Keep Detroit Beautiful Initiatives
  • Help your library establish an environmental corner that offers books and other educational materials about taking care of the Earth.

Tips Just for Kids


Taking care of our environment is a very important job.

There's something for everyone to do-including you! No matter where you live, there are many things you can do around your neighborhood or at school, such as setting an example by not littering, helping clean up a spot, and learning about safe ways to handle trash.

You can start by choosing one or more of these ideas. Some are simple. Others will need the help of a parent, older family member, or teacher. You can involve your friends and family in all of them.

Always set an example by not littering, no matter where you are.

When you put out the trash at home, make sure that garbage can lids are on tight, and that all of the trash goes into the can.

If your parents own a car, make litterbags for them. Keep your yard clean and free of things that can blow into the street and become litter.

If your school playground doesn't have a litter basket, have your teacher ask the school to put one out. Your class can make and put up posters reminding other students to put litter where it belongs.

Ask a parent or teacher to take you or your class to a recycling center or sanitary landfill. Many recycling centers or landfills will let you see how trash is managed. List the different kinds of items that the recycling center collects, and how each one is prepared for shipment. At the landfill, list the kinds of equipment you see, and what each does.

Make a bulletin board that has pictures of areas that are clean, and those that are spoiled by litter or trash. Write a story about the difference between the two, and what can be done to make dirty areas clean again.

Whenever you visit a park or beach, carry out what you bring in-keep unwanted items in a bag or backpack until you can put them in a litter basket.

Ask an older family member or teacher to find out who keeps your city's parks and public areas clean. Have your class write letters inviting them to come to the school and speak about the importance of not littering. Learn more about how you can take care of your community's public lands by reading Keep America Beautiful's brochure "Take Care of America."

Have everyone in your class or youth group write a letter to a different business to ask that they help keep the city clean by keeping the lids on dumpsters closed.

If your family puts recyclables in a bin at curbside, tie up loose papers that could blow out.

Draw a map of your neighborhood or school and identify areas where there is litter. Are they near busy roads, businesses, or places where people gather?

Make a list of things that could be done to stop litter. Learn more about litter by reading "Tips for Preventing Litter in Your Community."

Contact a forest service or conservation district office and find out if they offer free tree seedlings to plant in parks or other public areas. Look in the telephone directory under "Government Agencies."

Ask your teacher if your school can make a small model of a sanitary landfill. Your class can fill it with items from home. Predict what will happen to each item before it is buried. Before the school year ends, dig up the site and see what actually happened. The model can be made with the help of someone from the city's public works department or a landfill

Composting Tips
Composting is a natural method for recycling organics like yard trimmings (12.1%) and food scraps (11.7%), which comprise nearly a quarter of municipal solids waste generated.

According to the U.S. EPA, composting diverted 7.1%, or 16.9 million tons of municipal solid waste, from landfill in 2003.  Nearly half of all U.S. states now ban yard waste from landfill because it represents such a large volume and because it can be productively composted.  There are about 3,225 community composting operations nationwide.

What is Composting?


Composting is the aerobic, biological decomposition of organic materials.  Living microbes combine with oxygen to cause decomposition.  The end result is nutrient-rich, soil-addictive called “compost”.

What Can Be Composted?
Nearly all organic byproducts, including food scraps, leaves, grass, yard clippings, nonrecyclable paper (paper towels, napkins, etc.), and sawdust and other wood products, can be composted.
Just over 56% (16.1 million tons) of yard trimmings were recovered for composting in 2003. This is a fourfold increase since 1990. About 2.7% of discarded food scraps were recovered in 2003.

Using Compost?
Finished compost is widely used in agriculture and horticulture (gardening), landscaping, golf course construction and highway beautification, and in creating landfill cover (the layer of soil that is placed over old landfills after they have reached capacity).

Types of Composting
  • Grasscycling is a form of waste minimization that involves the natural recycling of grass clippings by leaving the clippings on the lawn after mowing.
  • Backyard Composting enables residents to compost yard trimmings and other organic materials in their backyards.  When home composting, it is best to keep out meats, grease, and other materials that may attract pests.  The finished compost can be used to improve the lawn and garden.
  • Vermicomposting uses red wiggler earthworms to process food scraps and other organics into worm casting.  The worms eat over half their body weight each day.  The nutrient-rich worm castings are beneficial to plants and soil.  This method is often used inside homes and school classrooms, although there are some larger vermicomposting facilities.
  • Yard Trimmings Composting is the large-scale processing of grass, leaves, tree limbs, trunks and brush, and garden materials into finished compost.  Yard trimmings may be brought to drop-off sites or picked up at curbside and sent to municipal composting facilities.
  • Source-Separated Organics Composting Programs rely on residents, businesses, and public and private institutions to separate one or more type of organic materials and set them out separated from other recyclables and trash for collection and eventually composting.
  • Mixed Municipal Solid Waste Composting is when a commingled stream of solid waste is sorted to remove recyclable, hazardous, and noncompostable materials, and the remaining organics are composted.