Harrisburg, PA People aren’t just spring cleaning their homes… they’re also spring cleaning their towns!

PennDOT and the Department of Environmental Protection are already looking for volunteers to help with this year’s Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, which has events throughout the state from now until May 31.

For that statewide project, volunteering is easy. People can simply organize their own local event and register it at Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, or can register to participate in an already registered event. Gloves, trash bags, and safety vests for the cleanup campaign will be provided by PennDOT, DEP, and the GLAD Products Company, a national sponsor.

***

As for our local cleanups, the Downtown DuBois annual spring cleanup hasn’t officially been scheduled yet, but it’s usually held on a Saturday in late April.

If you’ve been inspired by the viral #trashtag challenge, you can get involved anytime by cleaning up part of your own community. Think of a place where you notice a lot of litter and challenge yourself to make it look better. Take a photo of it beforehand, then again after you’ve cleaned the area, and use the hashtag “trashtag”.

However, you need to make sure that you’re doing this safely! For state-owned roadways, it’s easy to register with PennDOT first. They’ll provide you with safety vests and road signs that will warn drivers, and they’ll also coordinate with Pennsylvania State Police to help keep volunteers from getting struck by vehicles.

If you’re cleaning up a smaller pathway or a park, talk to your municipality beforehand. They’ll even give you advice of how you can dispose of the trashbags after the cleanup.

***

Safety tips while picking up litter:

Things you’ll need (and can get from PennDOT or your municipality): high-visibility vest, gloves, litter pickers, and trash bags (preferably brightly colored)

Set up signage along the road. Watch for traffic.

Look at the weather report. Only pick up litter in the daytime when people can easily see you. Try to choose a time when traffic is light.

Dress for the job. Wear a high-visibility vest, sturdy work or garden gloves, long pants, a long t-shirt, and heavy boots or shoes.

Work in pairs or teams. Avoid horseplay. Look out for traffic, needles or other dangerous objects, and snakes or other wildlife.

Do not pick up dangerous litter. This includes razor blades, syringes, and dead animals. If you don’t feel comfortable picking it up, DON’T! Call your local authorities to handle it instead.

***

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are seeking volunteers for this year’s Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, a campaign of statewide community cleanup activities that runs through May 31.

Groups participating in PennDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program, which involves volunteers cleaning roadsides year-round, are also encouraged to take part in the campaign.

“For years, PennDOT has taken an active role in supporting the many volunteers who’ve taken a vested interest in cleaning up Pennsylvania,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “We are more than thankful for the thousands who share our desire to keep Pennsylvania beautiful.”

“Each year communities, volunteer organizations, friends, and co-workers come together for trash cleanup projects that make a tangible difference,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “Getting trash off roads and streambanks makes communities more inviting, as well as improving public health and reducing stormwater runoff pollution. I thank the many Pennsylvanians who volunteer and look forward to joining in a cleanup event again this year.”

“Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is grateful to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for its support of the thousands of volunteers that pitch in to make Pennsylvania a more clean and beautiful place to live, work and play,” said Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful President, Shannon Reiter.

Volunteering is easy. People can simply organize their own local event and register it at Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, or can register to participate in an already registered event. Gloves, trash bags, and safety vests for the cleanup campaign will be provided by PennDOT, DEP, and the GLAD Products Company, a national sponsor.

In addition, during “Pick It Up, PA Days,” April 13 – May 6, registered cleanup events have access to reduced or free disposal at participating landfills, through support from DEP and the Pennsylvania Waste Industries’ Association.

During last year’s cleanup, 108,638 volunteers collected over 6.5 million pounds of litter from Pennsylvania’s roads, trails, and shorelines. Over 5,300 events were held, with every county participating.

PennDOT’s AAH program contributed 25,927 volunteers, who cleaned up nearly 25 percent of the collected litter on 10,076 miles of cleaned-up roadway.

Through PennDOT’s AAH program, volunteers collect litter on a 2-mile section of state highway at least twice a year. The program currently has over 4,700 participating groups, more than 91,800 volunteers, and 10,244 miles of adopted state-maintained roadways.

PennDOT has created a comprehensive webpage that includes all volunteer opportunities available, from the Great American Cleanup of Pa and Adopt-A-Highway to Safety Training, Litter Brigades and more. Find it at PennDOT.gov, Roadside Beautification.

In addition to the department’s clean-up activities, PennDOT is participating in a multi-agency initiative to promote plantings that will benefit Pennsylvania’s pollinators and native species. Volunteers can assist by applying to adopt pollinator habitats. More information on the department’s new Pollinator Habitat Plan can be found under Adopt and Beautify at www.PennDOT.gov.

The Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania is sponsored each year by PennDOT, DEP, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, and other partners.