Our Healthy Habitat "toolkit" makes it easy for you to help create a cleaner, greener Burlington.
Just follow these 5 easy steps
Choose a location
It can be your schoolyard, neighbourhood, business location or another area that needs some TLC.
Need a location to clean up? Here are some local hotspots that typically have lots of litter:
- Prospect walkway across from Canadian Tire
- Nelson Bike Park Dirtjumps
- Kerncliff Park
- SE corner of Fairview & Maple, and eastward along fence to rail overpass
- Ontario St. pathway to Richmond Rd.
- Sheldon Creek
- Sherwood Forest Park
- Tuck Creek
- Field/pathway behind Food Basics plaza at Upper Middle & Guelph Line, around to Centennial Dr.
Also, check fields, wooded areas, or creeks next to plazas, as well as various local parks. Once you choose your location, it's wise to have an alternate location in mind, on the odd chance that you get there and someone's cleaned it up already (though this is rare).
Also, consider doing a shoreline cleaning as part of WWF's Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (March 1 to July 31 & Aug. 15 to Nov. 30, annually). A map identifies about 12 shoreline areas in Burlington that need volunteers or co-ordinators each spring, summer, and fall.
Determine Work To Be Done
Does your chosen area need a clean up, green up, or both?
Litter Clean up
If your group wants to focus on litter pick up, once you have selected your area, you will need to know what can be recycled and what is waste that must go to the landfill or be disposed of carefully at the Halton Hazardous Waste Depot.
View the Blue Box and Green Cart acceptable materials PDF document to learn more. Please note that any recyclables that are quite dirty or rusted must go in the garbage. You can also learn more about Halton Region Waste Diversion Services for Community events here.
Invasive Species Removal
If your location is a natural area with non-native invasive plants, you can learn how to identify, properly remove, and dispose of them by clicking here and here.
Note: certain invasive species are a health hazard that shouldn't be touched (eg. Giant Hogweed) or must be removed following strict protocol with an organized team (eg. Garlic Mustard).
If you have approval to "green up" your location by planting trees, shrubs or plants, please begin by learning why it is important that you plant native species. You'll also need to know which native species will grow well in your area. Always be aware of invasive species and do NOT plant them. Please check out the helpful information below:
- Conservation Halton's Invasive Species and Biodiversity page
- Government of Ontario's Tree Atlas (tree planting guide with location map and pictures)
- Evergreen's Native Plant Database page
- Conservation Halton's Landscaping Guide (7-page PDF)
Make sure you have permission for any planting or invasive removal before you conduct your Green Up event.
- Public property approval – City of Burlington
- Private property approval – individual landowner
- School Board approval – resources are available to schools through a school board / Evergreen Greening Guideline.
Also, when planting trees adjacent to an area with power lines, be sure to comply with the minimum safe distances, otherwise the power utility may have to cut the trees down once they grow. Do not plant trees in Hydro right-of-ways.
Organize Your Event
- Set the date: Don't forget to check the forecast, and have an alternate rain date just in case. Also, do a search of other events in your community that weekend, especially ones that require volunteers, to minimize conflicts.
- Set the hours: Restoration groups in Halton typically run events on Saturday mornings from 9am to around noon. Three hours is a good length of time before people get tired or have to leave for other commitments. Some people will often stay an extra hour if there's more work to be done.
- Scout out parking: Choose a suitable parking area for cars and bikes and let your volunteers know ahead of time where to park and meet.
Find other volunteers
You can't do it alone. Seek out friends, family, and neighbours that share your passion for cleaning up the environment. Remember to delegate – have volunteers help you with organizing the event.
Notify volunteers of the event details above and where to park and meet (you should encourage walking, biking, carpooling). Also, inform if snacks, water, gloves, tools are provided or if they should bring their own. It is also a good idea to inform volunteers of suitable clothing to wear, the expected level of fitness for tasks planned, and if the event is suitable for young kids or not.
Need Clean Up Supplies?
If you are cleaning up on public property such as a local park, you can contact the City of Burlington to receive a limited supply of gloves and bags for your litter collection. Learn more here.
If you can, try to use reusable work gloves and other materials to reduce the amount of litter going into the landfill.
Promote your event!
We would be pleased to post your event on our Calendar of events. Submit your event details (name of your group, date of your event, contact information, and more specifics) here. You can also post the event on the City of Burlington events calendar here.
Strive to make your event as 'green' as possible
- Use reusable drink containers. Bring a jug of water for refills.
- Carpool / Use public transit (schedules and maps for Burlington Transit found here).
- Walk / Bike
- If you are printing posters, use recycled paper
A supply list for consideration:
- First aid kit (essential)
- Hand wash supplies and sanitizer
- Snacks & water (encourage volunteers to bring refillable drink containers)
- Large garbage bags, clear bags for clean recyclables, a few small bags for misc. items.
- Litter pickup tool if available
- Shovels, trowels for planting events
- Sunscreen and a few extra hats in case some people forget
- An extra jacket, in case someone forgets or underdresses
- Bug repellant, just in case
- A charged mobile phone, in case of emergency or volunteers needing to contact you last minute
- Safety vests where necessary for visibility
- Rubber boots as necessary
- Protective eye-wear as necessary (for branches, etc)
- Event signage and/or pylons where deemed appropriate
- Camera/phone for group photo and pics of work area (before, during, & after)
You should do everything you can to ensure that you and your team are safe during your cleanup project. The general work area should be surveyed before your volunteers arrive, to check for any hazards that may exist. Safety rules should be reviewed with volunteers prior to work commencing. You should develop your own thorough list of safety requirements but here are some basic safety tips for you to consider:
- Supervise children in their cleanup efforts and emphasize that safety comes first.
- Wear gloves.
- Wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, and appropriate closed-toe footwear.
- Sun protection: apply sunscreen and wear hat as necessary.
- Stay hydrated throughout the event. On very hot days, co-ordinators should give periodic reminders to all volunteers to stop and drink water.
- Please do not cleanup in or near roadways or parking lots.
- Be aware of pedestrians, bikes, and vehicles, if crossing a sidewalk, bike path, parking lot, or roadway. Some cyclists travel quite fast on bike paths and sidewalks and it's often hard to see or hear them coming. Be alert and avoid these travelled areas as much as possible.
- Be aware of your surroundings and the potential hazards (eg. poison ivy, streams and undercut banks, branches). Tree branches and brush can poke you in the face unexpectedly; protective eye-wear is helpful here, along with slow movements.
- Avoid sudden changes of direction to go after a piece of litter, that may catch others off-guard.
- Wash hands before eating.
- Do not lift heavy objects.
- Never touch a needle with your hands. If you find a needle or other bio-medical waste, check out this resource for disposal instructions in Burlington.
- Wear gloves to pick up cigarette butts. You can also use a broom and dustpan or a rake to clean them up.
- If using graffiti removal products, read and follow their safety instructions first.
- Children must never touch items like glass, broken wood, metal, needles, or household hazardous waste. It’s a good idea to double up your garbage bags for transporting these items.
Share results & Thank Your Volunteers
Be sure to snap a photo of your group in action and take a group photo as well. Count up your bags of litter and recyclables and if you removed invasive plants or did some planting, let us know all the details by sending your group/event photo and all the details here. Share your results to inspire others!
Also, thank your volunteers! Whether they were friends, family, or someone you're meeting for the first time, your volunteers have taken time out of their busy schedules to help their community. A thank you goes a long way. Be sure to email, Facebook, and personally thank each person.