Everybody hates litter. Everybody.

Litter negatively impacts communities in every corner of the world. An abundance of research demonstrates the detrimental effects poor local environmental quality (i.e. litter, illegal dumping/fly-tipping, dog waste, and similar) has on health, well-being, education, wildlife, crime rates, economy, and tourism (source).

The good news - additional studies have demonstrated the benefits of cleanup events. Areas cleaned of litter reduce ongoing litter rates, and a reduction in litter boosts the local economy, raises property values, improves individuals’ health and well-being, and reduces crime; among other benefits.

Our hometown of Dundee, Scotland has witnessed both sides of this first-hand. Many streets, public spaces, and beaches are strewn with discarded waste. Sadly, many city cleaning budgets are being cut, and despite the handful of employees devoted to litter cleanup, it’s an overwhelming task.

In 2017 a nearby community took matters into their own hands, launching Scotland’s first community-led litter summit in 2017 to initiate an Adopt-a-Street program. The initiative encourages residents to take responsibility for their streets and unites community members around a common goal.

The goal of Cleanup Community is to expand on this proven solution in communities around the world by enabling everyone, everywhere to quickly organize and participate in cleanup events.

What Cleanup Community Does

The Cleanup Community web app, available at, is a platform for organizing and completing litter cleanup events. Cleanup events can be created by individuals, local businesses, or other organizations, then promoted using our suite of social tools to recruit volunteers.

Note: We're currently in the prototype phase and building out our application, so there's limited functionality at the moment. This is changing rapidly.

To Organize a Cleanup Event:

  1. Visit
  2. Click the ‘Organize an Event’ button
  3. Select a date for the event
  4. Enter a meeting point
  5. Draw a cleanup area on the map
  6. Then use our suite of social media tools to recruit participants and sponsors (more on this below)

To Join a Cleanup Event:

  1. Visit
  2. Search for events in your area
  3. Click the ‘Join Event’ button to officially join, login with Facebook or Instagram, then register for the event.

The platform also allows anonymous registrations for individuals who prefer not to login. Simply arrive at the designated meeting point at the scheduled start time.

Social Media Tools

One goal we’ve set for our platform - to produce zero trash. This means we will not endorse using printed materials to promote cleanup events.

As an alternative, our platform will provide a suite of social media tools to promote the event, find business sponsors, and recruit volunteers on social media, especially Facebook:

  • Search for businesses within and around the cleanup area to sponsor the event
  • Encourage participants to join the corresponding event in the Cleanup Community Facebook Group, and corresponding Cleanup Community Group Event (which we create for every event on
  • Auto-generated shareable images displaying the date and location of the cleanup event for use on Facebook, * Instagram, Twitter and other social channels
  • Ability to share the event on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

How We Built It

The application is built with:

  • Facebook APIs - Facebook Login, Graph API, Places Graph, Comments, and Analytics
  • Google Maps API - for selecting and displaying the meeting location and cleanup area
  • React - for the client-side user interfaces
  • Next.js - for server-side-rendering of React components, to improve search engine optimization
  • Node/Express - for the backend
  • MongoDB and MondoDB Atlas - for the database and database hosting
  • Auth0 - for added authentication security
  • CookieBot - for GDPR/ePrivacy compliance
  • Heroku - for hosting the application
  • Gitlab - for hosting the repository

Challenges We Ran Into

We’d like to streamline the process of creating corresponding events in the Cleanup Community Facebook Group when an event has been created on The Facebook Graph API does not currently allow for Group Events to be created/edited/deleted however. So for now, this is a manual process.

Accomplishments We're Proud Of

Our team became aware of the Developer Circles Community Challenge only several weeks ago, a few weeks after the challenge was announced. We’re extremely proud we were able to assemble a team, ideate, iterate, prototype, and submit our project in just a few weeks. We’ve rallied around a sticky idea and hope to continue.

What We Learned

Litter is a major factor for the health of a community and negatively impacts communities around the world. On the positive side, everyone we share our project with is supportive and often eager to get involved. So while we’re frustrated with the abundance of litter, we’re hopeful Cleanup Community encourages litter-haters around the world to unite and improve their community.

What's Next for Cleanup Community

We’ve had exceptional fun collaborating on Cleanup Community and view our hackathon submission as a great start to a long-term passion project. This perspective has resulted in many ideas for additional features, here are a few we hope to implement in the near future:

  • A Cleanup Community mobile app, with specialized functionality for use during cleanup events:
    • Allow organizers to take attendance
    • Provide a real-time location-aware map to help participants navigate the cleanup area and ensure complete cleanup area coverage
    • Implement litter surveys for measuring and monitoring litter levels in each cleanup area
    • Ability to report areas in need of cleaning, so the platform can recommend cleanup areas
  • Internationalization via additional language support to encourage use in communities around the world
  • Incorporate liability waivers into the event participation flow
  • Instructions for specific communities:
    • Local laws to be aware of
    • Contact details for local authorities to organize trash bag collection
  • Register Cleanup Community as a Community Interest Company
  • Articles and videos with tips on how to organize and run successful cleanup events, safety tips, before & after stories, and more
  • Building our social media presence on the Cleanup Community Instagram and the Facebook Group accounts

And the big one

  • Our goal is to help community members organize and carry-out 10,000 litter cleanup events

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