While rallying your community to clean streets may sound like a heavy lift, that didn't stop Neighborhood Councils and NClean Streets L.A. Challenge winners recently showed how to get things done to keep our neighborhoods beautiful. Below are some tips from the pros so you can start making a difference in your community:
Partner with local organizations
One of the largest cleanups was hosted by the Little Tokyo Public Safety Association in partnership with nine other organizations including the Little Tokyo Business Association and Sustainable Little Tokyo. By partnering with other networks and community oriented groups, the Little Tokyo Public Safety Association was able to ensure wide outreach, donations and a high volunteer turnout. With a turnout of over 250 volunteers, Little Tokyo residents were able to beautify their community by pooling resources to sweep sidewalks, collect bulky items, and power wash the streets.
Other successful Clean Streets L.A. Challenge participants strategically partnered with organizations like their local Boy Scouts of America chapter, LAPD and local school districts to engage everyone in the area equally and distribute marketing materials for maximized outreach.
Find unique ways to involve everyone in your neighborhood
The Sun Valley Neighborhood Council exceeded expectations when they created unique ways to involve youth and rally them for their “Keep That Corridor Clean!” project collecting as much as 40 tons of trash and getting rid of miles of graffiti.
To engage kids and teens in the Sun Valley area, the SV City Neighborhood Council partnered with their local school district to involve elementary school students in a special art/drawing contest and high school students through a smartphone MyLA311 app workshop. SV elementary school children were able to submit their artwork showcasing how they imagine making their neighborhood more environmentally friendly. High school students were invited to a workshop to learn the MyLA311 application in order for them to train other fellow friends and family members in their community on how to use it and its need for a better community.
Make changing your community fun, relevant and engaging
A creative and engaging approach to volunteer campaigns was led by the Glassell Park Improvement Association who created “Parkemons” based on the popular Pokémon Go game. The Glassell Park Improvement Association created games that involved picking up litter, reporting graffiti and bulky items pickup following the Parkemons theme. This not only encouraged participants to have fun while improving their community, but generated a lot of buzz and conversations around efforts to keep Glassell Park free from "Parkemons" dirtying the neighborhood.
Cleaner streets = better environment
By removing trash, bulky items and hazardous materials from streets we are able to help prevent more trash and pollutants from finding themselves in the ocean and other bodies of water. Hazardous materials that are dumped on the streets are of utmost priority for cleanup as the toxins involved will get into the air we breathe and surroundings.
Allows for better public safety
Ensuring safe streets, sidewalks and surroundings is important to prevent accidents in vehicles and on foot. By keeping debris, trash and hazardous materials such as glass and metal off the ground we are able to provide pedestrians and drivers with safer and healthier access helping prevent collisions and other physical accidents.
Keeps our animal friends and pets safe
Trash on our streets often involves food wrappers or materials that may resemble food which animals such as birds and dogs may be attracted to. This poses a health hazard for animal life as diseases and death can become a result of accidentally swallowing a bottle cap or rotten food. By disposing of trash properly, we are making sure living things continue to be a part of our ecosystem.
Helps keep our sewers and drains clean
Maintaining clean streets can help keep storm water runoff at bay. Trash and debris from our surroundings often find themselves in street gutters clogging storm drains and preventing water from flowing to its destination. The pollutants from trash and other waste may also find their way into our sewers further increasing exposure to hazards.
Just like fitness should be a year round habit instead of a beginning of year habit, Earth Day should be celebrated everyday through the adoption of sustainable practices in your everyday life. The City of Los Angeles is committed to implementing efforts that will benefit and protect our environment. Here are some things you can do every day to make a difference.
1. Purchase reusable bags for groceries and everyday purchases: According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, about 15 billion single-use plastic bags were given out to California consumers every year prior to Proposition 67 being passed in 2016. One plastic bag takes about 500 years to break down in landfills. By purchasing reusable tote bags, you can save plastic bags from filling our oceans, reduce your daily plastic consumption and avoid a 10 cent fee every time you shop.
2. Report abandoned waste in your neighborhood: Los Angeles Sanitation provides L.A. residents with abandoned waste removal services through the MyLA311 app or by calling 311. The service includes removal of bulky items, loose debris and vegetation. Stay in the loop by downloading MyLA311 app here or check out cleanstreets.com for more information.
3. Community cleanups: Hosting community cleanups in partnership with Clean Streets LA can be beneficial for the environment and your community. If you are in the South Los Angeles area, you can become part of the Clean Streets South LA Challenge by hosting community cleanups and raising awareness of the MyLA311 app. If outside of the South LA area, you can sign up to become a volunteer for Clean Streets LA and other initiatives in liaison with the Mayor’s Volunteer Corps.
4. Attend a Discover Recycling Open House in your area: Los Angeles Sanitation hosts a series of open houses across various districts where they showcase curbside collection programs and sustainable waste practices. The Discover Recycling Open Houses are kicking off the last week of April and will run through late June. For more information on open houses near your, visit our upcoming events section.
5. Minimize outdoor watering: Converting your garden into a drought tolerant environment can decrease the amount of water used outdoors on landscaping. Following your water agency’s watering schedule can also help decrease your water consumption. Additional water saving tips including rain barrels and keeping toxins out of local bodies of water can be found here.
Although Earth Day is only once a year, the City of Angels works year round to ensure our city implements the goals set out in Mayor Garcetti’s Sustainability Plan. Los Angeles Sanitation runs over ten programs across L.A. County to protect our water, reduce waste and educate our communities on sustainable practices and efforts.
Below are some facts and figures highlighting how Los Angeles and LASAN celebrate Earth Day every day
1. L.A. has one of the highest solid waste recycle rates of a large American city at 76.4%.
2. During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, LA Sanitation collected over 10 million pounds of hazardous waste at S.A.F.E. centers.
3. The City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works hosted over 306 cleanup events in the 2015-2016 fiscal year adding up to about 96,230 volunteer hours.
4. 95% of bulky item pickups were completed by the next day collection day during the 2015-2016 fiscal year. With more efficient cleaning practices, Los Angeles residents enjoyed a year of cleaner and safer streets regardless of zip code.
5. The Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve was created as a vegetation experiment in 1979 by the Army of Corps of Engineers and has a pond that reaches the Los Angeles River and Haskell Creek.
6. Griffith Park Composting Facility composts more than 3,500 tons of organic material. This facility is also the first of its kind in the United States. Visitors of the facility can also learn to compost on their own and are provided with complimentary mulch to take home.
7. From May 2015 through Feb. 2017, LASAN aims to expand Advanced Water Purification Facilities (AWPF) to produce 12 million gallons per day of purified recycled water.
8. Over the course of the last fiscal year, LASAN cleaned 594 miles of sewers per month preventing spills, odors and hazards from affecting our communities.