This October, take a fall walk and clean up your neighborhood along the way.

Clean Up Your Neighborhood

Practice stewardship with your child

Picking up litter is a fun, simple, free activity that can have instant results for your child and your community.


Possible recipients

Anyone who enjoys a pristine neighborhood, park, beach, or public walkway.

What you’ll need

  • Plastic bag to collect trash

  • Gloves

  • Optional: pick-up stick, separate bag for recyclables


  1. Assign gloves and a trash bag to each family member.

  2. Clear out litter from a section of park, beach, vacant lot or your own neighborhood. Take all necessary precautions, including wearing sturdy gloves, being careful on river banks or near roads, having adults handle dangerous items and supervising children closely. You can pick your favorite walk and do a one-time sweep, or make clean-up a regular family event.

  3. Properly dispose of all litter.


  • Did you find a lot of litter? What kind of litter did you see most often? What could be done to help with that problem?

  • Why is it important to pick up litter?

  • What would our neighborhood look like if everyone littered? How would you feel about living here?

  • What other ways can we take care of the spaces where we live?


  • Colonel Trash Truck by Kathleen Crawley. Ages 4-8. The colonel is on a mission to protect the beauty of the earth by cleaning up litter — and convincing others to do the same.

  • Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter.  Ages 4-10. This hilarious story is one of our featured titles during the 2016 Big-Hearted Families™ Book Club. Combined with our kindness activity, it is sure to inspire your whole family to be mindful of your environmental impact.

  • Where Does the Garbage Go? Paul Showers. Ages 4-8. Showers describes what happens to garbage and recycling once it’s disposed of.

  • Recycle City: Find games, activities and stories to help kids learn about reducing waste and encouraging recycling.

  • Creative Cardboard Projects: This website connects you to myriad artistic projects that utilize recycled materials.

Take it further

  • Take a few digital photos of what you’ve picked up. Then have your family send an essay about your experience along with your favorite photo, your names, age(s) and address to Your essay will be published on the Nicodemus Wilderness Project website, your children’s names will appear in the Registry of Apprentice Ecologists, and you’ll get an official certificate. For tips on conducting the clean-up and writing the story, as well as essays and photos from other apprentice ecologists, visit the website.

  • Each time you step out the door to walk to the neighbors, park or bus stop, take an opportunity to clean up around the outside of your home. Eventually it will become a habit.

  • Another new tradition: Have each family member pick up five pieces of trash each time you visit the park, before you start playing.

  • Turn trash collecting into a “rubbish race” and see who can pick up the most trash in a certain amount of time. Read more here.

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