Developing a Plan of Action
Developing a Plan of Action
After you have selected a site, you must develop a plan of action. School systems and other authorities may not approve the cleanup until a complete action plan is available. The following should be considered in development of an action plan:
- Safety and Legal Issues
Before anyone picks up any trash on the site, qualified adults must conduct a safety inspection to look for harmful items, the landowner must approve the activity, and the school must approve it. Get written permission from landowners, and ask the school what administrative requirements pertain to the project.
Medical wastes and explosives are dangerous. Large containers, such as 55-gallon drums, may contain toxic chemicals. If the adult inspectors find these items or others they cannot identify, report these findings to the local fire department. Maybe students can safely clean up these areas after professionals have removed the hazardous materials, but student cleanup must wait until authorities give permission. Safety is essential.
Well ahead of the cleanup, hand out permission forms, and give students instructions and a deadline for completion.
- First Aid Precautions
Each cleanup site should have a first aid kit. A responsible adult at the site must know how to use the first aid supplies and what to do in case of emergencies. As with any fieldwork involving students, an extra vehicle and an extra driver should be available for emergencies.
- Schedule Considerations
Planning includes scheduling days for cleanups. There might not be time on a school day to get everyone to a site and to clean up the site. A weekend day may allow more time for the project, but it may be hard to get all the students together then.
If the cleanup is during a school day, either the class will walk to the site or the school bus driver will be needed to drive them and take care of parking. If the cleanup is on a weekend, make arrangements for parking places for the cars that come and stay.
- Project Helpers
Early on, identify and enlist helpers in the project. Be sure to include people in the planning group who have had experience conducting a cleanup.
- Job Assignments and Permission Forms
Just before cleanup day, meet with all workers to go over a map of the cleanup area and see that everyone knows his or her job assignments. Be sure that all signed permission forms are in order.
- Protective Clothing
Inform all workers about proper clothing for safety. Work gloves are essential. Each person should wear long pants, sturdy shoes, work gloves, and sun protection. Even if the cleanup day is warm, everyone needs to wear a long-sleeved shirt for protection from scratches or insects. If the cleanup is near a road, each person should wear a brightly colored vest (available from the Virginia Department of Transportation "Adopt-a-Highway" program).
- Disposal Arrangements and Fees
Most public works departments close on weekends. This means scheduling special pickup times for some materials. Decisions will be necessary about who will take heavy items (e.g., stoves, refrigerators, furniture) to the dump or recycling center. If there is a fee for disposing of trash, the school group might ask to be excused from paying it.
- Recycling Options
Locate recycling buy-back centers and recycling drop-off locations near the cleanup site. Choose locations for sorting trash into recyclables. The class may be able to sell aluminum cans to a buy-back center. Separate the recyclables out of all the trash after collecting it, or put each piece into separate containers for aluminum, glass, or plastic as it is picked up.
- Rain Date
Advertise a rain date, so that rain will not cancel the entire project.
- Trash Bags and Tools
Get plenty of trash bags. Some established cleanup programs provide them, and sometimes local businesses will donate them. A few yard rakes and shovels could be helpful at some sites.
Consider providing drinks and food for the cleanup workers. Sometimes restaurants, grocery stores, or drink bottling companies will donate refreshments. At a minimum, water should be available for workers.