GAC of MAIt’s hard to imagine while we’re smack in the middle of a brutal winter, but soon enough the snowbanks will begin melting and grass will grow. But when the snow is finally gone, it will reveal an ugly truth: Massachusetts has a serious litter problem. This problem is particularly acute in the spring, after it has accumulated over the long winter months.

Fortunately, some Massachusetts communities are already mobilizing volunteers to help clean up the mess. The Great American Cleanup of Massachusetts is a statewide program that helps volunteers organize local litter cleanup events. Keep Massachusetts Beautiful provides logistical and planning support and volunteers provide helping hands. These events are all part of Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup program, which engages more than four million volunteers in 20,000 communities across the U.S. each year.

“Most cities and towns in Massachusetts lack the financial and human resources to clean up the mounds of litter that accumulate over the winter months,” says Neil Rhein, Executive Director of Keep Massachusetts Beautiful. “But when residents get involved and take ownership for the appearance of their own neighborhoods, it instills community pride that often leads to additional improvements. It also sends the message that we will not tolerate litter in Massachusetts.”

State Representative and Keep Massachusetts Beautiful Board director Fred “Jay” Barrows, encourages municipal leaders across the state to get involved. “Annual litter cleanups in Mansfield, Foxborough, and North Attleborough have made a measurable difference in my district, and this great work is done at no cost to taxpayers,” said Barrows. “It’s a win-win-win solution for residents, local businesses, and municipalities.”

Litter cleanups can be scheduled for any time of the year, although the easiest time to remove litter is during the months of April and May, before the vegetation gets too thick. Keep America Beautiful affiliates in Mansfield and North Attleborough will be holding Great American Cleanup events on May 2. The city of Springfield is also organizing a cleanup for the spring.

A well-executed litter cleanup requires organization. We recommend that volunteers start planning now for springtime cleanup events. If you are a resident, community leader, or business leader interested in organizing a Great American Cleanup event, please contact us to request your free guide to organizing a Great American Cleanup event. This guide takes you step-by-step through the process.

We are also seeking local businesses and individuals who are interested in becoming financial sponsors for the Great American Cleanup of Massachusetts. National sponsors include BNSF Railway, Dow, the Glad Products Company, Lowe’s, and Altria. Contact us if you’re interested in partnering with us.