The Queen of Clean. That's the honorary title you can assume when you're the one in charge of trash at the neighborhood's biggest community event of the year. While everyone else on the organizing committee is sorting out music and food and the bounce house for kids, you're the one managing sweep-up duty. Take heart! There's actually an art to making this kind of event flow smoothly, and your job is one of the most important in making it a success. Block party attendees may be there for the food and entertainment, but paper plates and red plastic cups and random bits of debris scattered all over the place will put a serious damper on their enjoyment. And if the street isn't completely spic-and-span afterwards, the backlash can be unpleasant. So whip out your trusty calendar and put on your tiara, because the queen's got work to do—and some of it has to happen before the party even gets started.

The Ins and Outs of the Dumpster

Yes, you'll need to rent a dumpster. Having a central location where all the trash ends up at the end of the day is the best way to make sure it all gets removed. Don't be tempted to bag up the trash and distribute it among neighbors. That only leads to grumpy neighbors when they get extra charges from a trash hauler faced with so many extra bags at the next pick-up time. Instead, contact a local dumpster rental company, and do it weeks in advance of your block party to ensure availability. To determine the size of dumpster you'll need and the related charges, provide the company with

  • the number of attendees expected,
  • the drop-off date (make it the afternoon of the party) and the pick-up date (as late on the day of the party as possible or the next morning), and
  • the estimated amount and type of food and activities expected. If there are many food concessions, beverages, and paper table cloths, for example, you'll need a bigger dumpster than if the event is a simple picnic-style party.

Trash Bins for Easy Collection

Place trash bins with plastic liners at strategic locations around the party site. Many people will automatically look for place to discard their paper, cans, cups, and disposables when they're done, so make it easy for them to find one. Ideal locations include these:

  • 1 or 2 bins at each street corner where participates come and go from the party
  • 1 bin by each group of tables where people sit to eat
  • 1 bin by each group of food vendor carts, trucks, or booths

Plastic liners will make it simple to collect the trash when the bin is full and carry it to the dumpster. Make sure you have plenty of liners, as they'll need to be replaced frequently when you have a hopping party going on.

Trash Patrol Volunteers

Organize your own posse to tend to disposal needs during all the hours the block party is going on. Asking for volunteers is a good way to get your neighbors involved and invested in the successful outcome of the community event. If it's a long day, you can assign groups to several hours each so that everyone gets time to play as well as help. Arm your team with

  • extra trash bin liners,
  • brooms and dustpans so they can sweep up any spills, and
  • big pins, badges or ribbons that say "Volunteer." If you have room in your budget, giving them "volunteer" T-shirts is a great way to show them how much you appreciate their service.

When the day is done and you've waved goodbye as the rental company hauls away the dumpster, take time to treat yourself royally in celebration of the stellar contribution you've made to your community's ongoing success. To get started with your planning, contact a representative from a company like Road Runner Waste Service Inc.