Background information

What is Cleaning the Capital?

Cleaning the Capital is a citywide cleanup campaign that occurs in the spring and fall of every year. Residents come together as a community and combine efforts to make our city clean and green. Litter pickup or graffiti removal projects must be registered, and participating teams, upon request, receive a cleanup starter kit to assist them with their projects. Participants who register their cleanups during the campaigns' early bird registrations and/or submit their on-line cleanup reports are eligible to win prizes donated by the campaign's generous sponsors. 

2014 marks Cleaning the Capital's 21st year! The annual cleanup campaign first began in 1994 as a springtime cleanup only. . In 2006, due to the spring campaign's overwhelming success an annual fall cleanup was added. Since 1994, over 937,000 volunteers have participated in 15,000 cleanup projects throughout the city. As a result, an estimated 1.6M kilograms of waste have been removed from our public spaces and properly disposed of. 

Cleaning the Capital is not for profit and relies heavily on the generosity of our sponsors who support the campaign through financial and in-kind provisions. Cleaning the Capital is an exciting way for residents to foster community pride by cleaning up their parks, bus stops, woodlots, ravines, shorelines and pathways, while enjoying the outdoors and ensuring that Ottawa stays clean, green, graffiti and litter-free.

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When does Cleaning the Capital take place? What are key dates?

Fall - September 15 to October 15

August 15 to September 14: Early Bird Registration

September 15 to October 15: Registration
Last weekend of September Capital Cleanup Weekend (includes Friday, Saturday and Sunday)

October 15: Registration closes

October 31: Deadline to submit online Cleanup Report

Spring - April 15 to May 15

March 15 to April 14: Early Bird Registration

April 15 to May 15: Registration
Last weekend of April: Capital Cleanup Weekend (includes Friday, Saturday and Sunday)
May 15: Registration closes
May 31: Deadline to submit online Cleanup Report

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What types of projects are available?

Litter pickup projects in public spaces and/or graffiti removal projects on select public assets can be registered for Cleaning the Capital. Choose to clean our precious green spaces and community parks, or our roadsides, shoreline and areas around bus stops and shelters by picking up litter, including cigarette butts, and cleaning graffiti! Large or small, all cleanup projects are welcome. You can clean any area that you think needs it! The best projects to choose are ones that mean something to you and your community. Try to do projects in areas that you enjoy and use. That way you and your team will reap the rewards of your hard work each and every day!

 Does Cleaning the Capital include cleaning shorelines?

Absolutely! Ottawa has 4,500 kilometres of streams and rivers and that doesn’t include our lakes, ponds and wetlands. Our incredible wealth of water environments calls on us as residents to be shoreline stewards.  What happens on shorelines affects the quality of the water and the life it supports.  If you do sign up to clean a stretch of shoreline that you love, remember that the focus is only on human litter.  Leaving natural elements like logs and branches in place can actually be good for the environment.  If you would like some guidance in picking a priority stretch of shoreline, please contact us, or your local conservation authority. For Rideau Valley Conservation Authority: citystreamwatch@rvca.ca. For South Nation Conservation Authority: rboutz@nation.on.ca. For Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority: asymon@mvc.on.ca.

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What about cleaning graffiti?

If you want to remove graffiti on select public assets as part of your Cleaning the Capital cleanup project, we can assist by providing:

  • a Graffiti Removal Starter kit (intended for use on public property/assets)
  • safety tips and instructions
  • more information on proper graffiti removal, visit ottawa.ca/graffiti.

For further details on registering a graffiti removal project during Cleaning the Capital, please e-mail us at cleaning@ottawa.ca.

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What about cleaning cigarette butts?

Cigarette butts are litter too. They are not recyclable and they do not biodegrade. These pose many health risks and environmental risks. They are toxic and can take up to 12 years to breakdown. Remember to include picking up cigarette butts as part of your cleanup project. Make sure to wear gloves and to dispose of them in the garbage.  If you are cleaning a paved area, use a broom and dust pan to sweep up the cigarette butts. If you are cleaning a grassy area, use a rake.
Click here for more information about cigarette butts and their impact on the environment.
 

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How do I register?

There are two ways to register: Online or by calling 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401).

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What if I need cleanup supplies?

Don’t worry. Cleanup Starter Kits are available to all volunteer teams during Cleaning the Capital. Register your cleanup project and request your kit! You will also need to select the location where you will pick up your kit. There are 15 convenient Ottawa locations to choose from!

  • Litter Pickup Starter Kits include: Gloves, garbage bags, leaf-and-yard waste bags, project tips and important safety information.
  • Graffiti Removal Starter Kits include: Graffiti removal wipes (effective on smooth surfaces only), masks, gloves and safety tips.

Cleanup starter kits are designed to get you started on your project and our generous sponsors donate the supplies. While we cannot provide unlimited supplies to volunteers, we will do our very best to ensure that you have enough supplies to complete your project. Cleanup starter kits are individually packed for each project team based on the number of volunteers you have registered. Upon request and while quantities last, we will include some Cleaning the Capital magnets and Don’t be a Litterbug stickers in your kit as a thank you to you and your team.

Need additional tools or supplies? Contact us! We may be able to further support your cleanup by loaning you safety vests, goggles, shovels, rakes and/or litter pickers.  

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What if I don’t need cleanup supplies?

We provide cleanup starter kits to those registering for the campaign and who request supplies in the registration form. If you do not need cleanup supplies, please proceed in registering your cleanup, and ensure to select “No” to receiving a cleanup starter kit.

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What if I can’t find a project team?

If you can’t find a project team, try to make one yourself! Tell your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues about your plans. You might find that some of them want to get involved but just didn't know how. Try approaching your community or neighbourhood association and asking if the whole community wants to get involved. Ask around at your children's school, your workplace or community centre, the more people that get involved the easier it is to get the whole city clean!

If you still can't find a team, don't worry; many of our long-time Cleaning the Capital volunteers make an impact each and every year all by themselves. All it takes is one person to make a difference.

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Why should I participate?

There are many reasons to participate during Cleaning the Capital. Here are our top reasons!

  1. It’s good for the environment!
  2. Your community becomes a cleaner and safer place for your family, friends, neighbours and residents of all ages.
  3. It’s a great way to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  4. It’s a great way to connect with neighbours and give back to your community.
  5. It sets a good example for all generations.
  6. It’s a great way for businesses to show how much they care about our community.

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What about High School Volunteer Hours?

Cleaning the Capital is a great opportunity for high school students to get a head start on their Community Involvement Program volunteer hours. Students must simply:

  1. Register their cleanup online during the campaign
  2. Complete their cleanup project
  3. Submit their online report prior to the submission deadline
  4. Contact us to obtain a letter supporting their participation in the Cleaning the Capital Campaign

For further information, please contact us.

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What is Capital Cleanup Weekend?

Capital Cleanup Weekend is a three-day period (Friday to Sunday) during Cleaning the Capital where many of our councillors and generous sponsors visit some cleanup projects throughout the city to thank our volunteers and maybe hand out some extra prizes!

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How do I get involved?

Participate at school

Cleanup projects can be a fun and co-operative way to learn about the importance of a clean and safe environment. Teachers and students can organize school and community cleanup projects or challenge other grades and schools to see who can pick up the most litter or clean the most graffiti! Cleaning the Capital is a great opportunity for high school students to add to their Community Involvement Program Volunteer hours.

Make it work at work

As an Ottawa business person there are lots of ways you can help out during the campaign:

  • Become a campaign sponsor - an attractive city promotes respect, economic development and tourism!
  • Sponsor a specific community group or school that is planning a cleanup project - donate incentive prizes, cleanup supplies or sponsor a cleanup celebration event like a barbecue or picnic.
  • Organize your own group to clean up the area adjacent to your business or an area of the city that is important to you.
  • Challenge nearby businesses to organize cleanups in the community.

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What do I do with the garbage/litter I collect?

  • Ensure your group of volunteers compost, recycle and dispose of waste properly.
  • Flush animal feces down the toilet rather than putting it in the garden or garbage.
  • Bring all toxic materials to one of the City’s One-Day Household Hazardous Waste Depots.
  • Leave extremely large or unsafe items where they are found. Do not attempt to move them. Call 3-1-1 immediately for disposal instructions.
  • Bring your cleanup project garbage, recycling and leaf-and-yard waste home whenever possible for your regularly scheduled collection day. Please remember to respect the 3 waste item limit each week, excluding recycling and leaf and yard waste. Visit Recycling and Garbage for more information.
  • Arrange for onsite pickup. Simply call 311 to put in your pickup request. Remember to have on hand your registration code, the pickup date, time and location. Please note that all items must be left at the one location which must be easily accessible and must not impede on any pedestrian, cycling or vehicular traffic. Whenever possible, please contact 3-1-1 ahead of time to make pickup arrangements in advance of your cleanup.
  • Hosting an event for your cleanup team? Don’t forget to recycle and compost. Dispose of your recyclables in the appropriate bin and dispose of your food waste in your green bin.

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What if I have found a large item and need assistance to dispose of it?

If you expect to or have collected large items and need assistance in disposing of these from your clean-up site, please contact us as soon as possible by calling 3-1-1. We will make special arrangements on your behalf to have the items picked up and properly disposed of. Remember to provide us with details on the location of the items such as the closest municipal address, a land mark or the nearest intersection.

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What about leaves?

Please “leave the leaves” in open areas! Leaves should be left in open spaces that are maintained and mowed by the City, including parks, where they will be mulched. Mulching returns the leaves’ nutrients to the soil.

Please remove leaves from areas where mowers cannot be used. Leaves, litter and debris tend to accumulate along fence lines, play structures and landscaped areas to name a few. Help improve our public spaces by making them clean and safe!

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Are there some basic safety tips we should follow?

You should do everything you can to ensure that you and your project team are safe during your clean up project. Some basic safety rules include:

  • Supervise children in their cleanup efforts and emphasize that safety comes first.
  • Wear gloves and appropriate footwear.
  • Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Read and follow safety instructions on graffiti removal products
  • If cleaning near a roadway, wear a safety vest and clean only the non-travelled portion of a roadway.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and the potential hazards (i.e. poison ivy, streams and branches) and remember to put on protective eyewear as necessary.
  • Have a hand washing station available for volunteers.
  • Do not lift heavy objects.
  • Never touch a needle with your hands. Call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) for disposal information and assistance.
  • Wear gloves to pick up cigarette butts. You can also use a broom and dustpan or a rake to clean them up.
  • 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.

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How can I win a prize?

There are two ways that you may become eligible to win a prize:

  • register your cleanup project during early bird registration for a chance to win an early bird prize.
  • fill out your online cleanup report by the submission deadline for a chance to win one of several prizes provided by our sponsors. (You must have completed your cleanup project prior to filling out your report.)

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Why should I fill out an online Cleanup Report?

Once your cleanup project is complete, there are three important reasons for you to fill out your online cleanup report:

  • Tell us how you did! Your feedback is very helpful in ensuring future success in our campaigns.
  • Request your Cleaning the Capital “Thank You Certificate”.
  • Become eligible to win a campaign prize from one of our sponsors.

Don’t forget! To access the report, you need your registration code that is given to you upon registering for the campaign.

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What is my Registration Code? How can I obtain it?

Your Cleaning the Capital registration code is provided to you in an e-mail upon confirmation of your registration. You may also find your registration code on the Kit Packing Sheet which accompanies your cleanup kit. If you have misplaced your registration code, please contact us at cleaning@ottawa.ca.

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How can I get my Cleaning the Capital Thank you Certificate?

To obtain your Cleaning the Capital Thank You Certificate, you must:

  • register your project
  • complete your cleanup project
  • fill out your online cleanup report and request your certificate prior to the submission deadline.

Don’t forget! To access the report, you need your registration code that is given to you upon registering for the campaign.

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The Harlem Shake by the Cleaning the Capital Team

 

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Cleaning the Capital - Fall 2014 dates

August 15: Early bird registration begins
Register your litter pickup or graffiti removal project by September 14 to be eligible to win an early bird prize donated by our generous sponsors.

September 15 – October 15: Fall Cleaning the Capital campaign

September 26 – 28: Capital Cleanup Weekend
If your project takes place during Capital Cleanup Weekend, a campaign sponsor and/or your city Councillor may visit your team during your registered cleanup!

October 15: Registration ends

October 31: Deadline to submit your online cleanup report
After you have finished your cleanup project, please submit your online cleanup report. Submit it by October 31 and your team will be entered in a draw to win prizes donated by our sponsors. You will need your registration code to access your cleanup report.

For more information on Cleaning the Capital, please visit our Background Information page or call 3-1-1.

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