What is Cleaning the Capital?
The Cleaning the Capital campaign is a citywide cleanup 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 campaign’s early bird registration period and/or submit their on-line cleanup reports after their cleanup are eligible to win prizes donated by the campaign's generous sponsors.
2021 marks the 28th year of the Cleaning the Capital Program! The annual cleanup campaign first began in 1994 as a springtime cleanup. In 2006, due to the spring campaign's overwhelming success an annual fall campaign was added. Since 1994, more than 1.4 million volunteers have participated in more than 23,000 cleanup projects throughout the city. As a result, an estimated 1,700,000 kilograms of waste has been removed from our public spaces.
The Cleaning the Capital Program is not-for-profit initiative and relies heavily on the generosity of sponsors who offer financial and in-kind support. 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, and graffiti and litter-free.
What types of projects are available?
Litter pickup projects in public spaces and/or graffiti removal projects on select public assets can be registered through the Cleaning the Capital program. Choose to clean our precious green spaces and community parks, roadsides, and shorelines, or choose to clean areas around bus shelters by picking up litter and cigarette butts, and cleaning graffiti!
Does Cleaning the Capital include shoreline cleanups?
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. Leave natural elements like logs and branches in place. If you would like some guidance in picking a priority stretch of shoreline, please contact your local conservation authority:
- Rideau Valley Conservation Authority: email@example.com
- South Nation Conservation Authority: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority: email@example.com
You can also take part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
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
- For 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cleaning cigarette butts
Cigarette butts are litter too. They are not recyclable and they do not biodegrade. 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.
What is included in a cleanup kit?
- Litter Pickup Starter Kits include: Gloves and garbage bags.
- Graffiti Removal Starter Kits include: Graffiti removal wipes (effective on smooth surfaces only), masks, gloves, scouring pads, 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. Need additional tools or supplies? Contact us! We may be able to further support your cleanup by loaning you shovels, rakes and/or litter pickers.
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. Try approaching your community or neighbourhood association and asking if the whole community wants to get involved. Ask around at your children's school or your workplace or community centre.
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.
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:
- Register their cleanup online during the campaign.
- Complete their cleanup project.
- Submit their cleanup report prior to the submission deadline.
- Contact us to obtain a letter supporting their participation in the Cleaning the Capital campaign.
What is Capital Cleanup Weekend?
Capital Cleanup Weekend is a three-day period (Friday to Sunday) during the Cleaning the Capital campaign when many of our councillors and generous sponsors visit cleanup projects throughout the city to thank our volunteers and hand out extra prizes!
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 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.
What do I do with the garbage/litter I collect?
- Ensure your group of volunteers compost, recycle and dispose of waste properly.
- Dog feces can go in the green bin.
- 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 home whenever possible for your regularly scheduled collection day. Please remember to respect the 6 waste item limit, excluding recycling and leaf and yard waste. Visit Recycling and Garbage for more information on what items are to be set out on your collection day.
- Arrange for onsite pickup. Simply call 3-1-1 to put in your garbage 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.
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 cleanup 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.
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. It is used to submit your Cleanup Report at the end of your project. 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.