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Cleaning the Capital Program

Cleaning the Capital Program

Registered Projects: 230

Submit your Cleanup Report

Submit your Cleanup Report

Thanks for taking part in the Cleaning the Capital campaign! Please submit one cleanup report for each project you completed by October 31, 2022.

Fall Cleaning the Capital - Important dates 2022

  • August 15, 2022: Registration opens
  • September 15, 2022 - October 15, 2022: Fall Cleaning the Capital campaign
  • September 30, 2022: Registration closes
  • October 31, 2022: Deadline to submit your online cleanup report.

How you can take part

Plan it

  • Pick your project site, your cleanup date (rain date too!), and time.
  • Promote your project and gather your project team.
  • Be sure to plan ahead for the proper disposal of compost, garbage, recycling, leaf-and-yard waste and any other hazardous items you may collect. Please review Important Project and Safety Information for more details. 
  • Cleaning the Capital is an ideal way for neighbours, family and friends to work together and clean up their neighbourhood.

Register

  • Fill out the online registration form to register your project. If you need supplies, remember to request your cleanup starter kit and select your desired pick-up location while registering.

The importance of registering: If you're cleaning up your neighbourhood or favourite green space, please register with us. People are encouraged to register in order to allow Cleaning the Capital organizers to distribute cleaning supplies, track the areas that have been cleaned and recognize volunteer work.

Complete your project!

  • If you requested a cleanup starter kit, remember to pick it up from your chosen pick-up facility. If you have questions about your cleanup kit, please contact cleaning@ottawa.ca.

Submit your report

Get your business involved

As a business owner or employee, you can make a difference by volunteering time or resources for a cleaner city:

  • Spend your next coffee or lunch break with employees or colleagues picking up litter.
  • If you or your employees smoke, remember to dispose of cigarette butts responsibly.  Arrange for suitable ashtrays and sweep up cigarette butts.
  • Promote your cleanup event in your store or office.  

Celebrate!

  • Celebrate your success and gear up for the next event!
  • Share photos of your cleanup project on social media using: #CleaningTheCapital @ottawacity 

Promote your cleanup!

Do you want to promote your cleanup project? If so, we've created a poster to help you reach your cleanup goal! Remember to seek the necessary permissions to promote your cleanup in private and public facilities and to comply with the rules around postering on poster collars.

Background information

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 projects must be registered, and participating teams, upon request, receive a cleanup starter kit to assist them with their projects. 

2022 marks the 29th 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 1.6 million volunteers have participated in nearly 30,000 cleanup projects throughout the city. As a result, an estimated 1,350,000 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 litter-free.

Important project and safety information

Proper disposal of garbage, recycling, and hazardous waste

Bring your garbage and recycling home 

  • Cleaning the Capital volunteers are encouraged whenever possible to bring their cleanup project garbage and recycling home for regular curbside collection.  
  • Please remember to respect the six-item waste limit every second week per household, excluding recycling.  Visit Garbage and recycling for more information.

OR

Request on-site garbage collection 

  • If you have collected large quantities of waste/litter, you may contact Cleaning the Capital staff at cleaning@ottawa.ca on your cleanup project date to submit a pickup request. Remember to provide your registration code, quantity of bags, exact pickup location (address, intersection, landmark, etc), and if possible, a photo of your waste/litter.
  • Pickup location must be easily accessible and must not impede any pedestrian, cycling or vehicular traffic. 

Please note: Waste/litter pickup will take place during regular business hours (Monday to Friday). Pickup requests submitted on weekends will be actioned on the next business day.

Hazardous waste

  • Please do not leave any hazardous materials at the cleanup site. If you’re unable to dispose of these materials, please contact 3-1-1. 
  • Bring all toxic materials to one of the City’s one-day Household Hazardous Waste Depots.
  • Participants can safely dispose of many kinds of household hazardous waste items by returning them to participating local retailers. For a list of retailers who accept returns of household hazardous waste, search the item in the Waste Explorer

Leave the leaves, branches, and wood! 

Please “leave the leaves” in most greenspaces! Leaves should be left in open spaces that are maintained by the City, including parks, and in all naturalized and natural areas. Please only remove leaves from pathways, play structures, splash pads and catch basins. Did you know that fallen leaves make good mulch for garden beds? They also provide overwintering shelter for many species of butterflies and bees.

For more information on how “leaving the leaves” benefits pollinators: Leave the Leaves! | Xerces Society

Many of Ottawa’s parks and open spaces include areas of naturalized habitat that are only mowed once or twice per year or are not mowed at all to allow native trees and shrubs to grow. These naturalized areas are important for pollinators and other wildlife. Please keep them clean by removing any litter, but don’t “tidy up” natural materials such as dead or dormant plants, seedheads, fallen leaves and branches. Those are important habitat features that provide food and shelter to wildlife over the winter.  

Similarly, please don’t “tidy up” fallen branches or dead wood from our open spaces and natural areas. City staff will handle any potentially hazardous trees or woody debris as needed. In natural areas, leaving coarse woody debris such as dead snags, downed logs, uprooted stumps, large branches and coarse roots in place is a recommended practice which contributes to long-term forest health. Coarse woody debris is essential for sustainable natural areas and benefits them by providing the following: 

  • Slow release of nutrients over the years
  • Habitat for a wide range of wildlife
  • Growing sites for plants and fungi
  • Moisture retention

What about piles of lawn clippings and other private yard waste? If you find yard waste that has been dumped onto City property, please do remove it, and report the location to staff. Dumping yard waste into City-owned natural areas is illegal, because it can smother native wildflowers and introduce non-native invasive plants such as goutweed. Moving wood can spread invasive insects and diseases to our forests. Please help us to grow a healthy forest for the nation's capital by not dumping yard waste or moving wood. 

General safety tips

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

  • Never touch a needle with your hands. Follow safe pickup procedures, or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) for assistance.
  • Have volunteers sanitize their hands or inform them where they can use a hand washing station. 
  • Wear gloves and appropriate footwear.
  • Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • If cleaning near a roadway, wear a safety vest or bright coloured clothing and clean only the non-travelled portion of a roadway.
  • Do not lift heavy objects.
  • Supervise children in their cleanup efforts and emphasize that safety comes first.
  • There must be one adult present for every six children less than 12 years of age and you must obtain consent from the legal guardian of those participants.
  • 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.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and the potential hazards (i.e. poison ivy, wild parsnip, streams and branches) and remember to put on protective eyewear as necessary.
  • The blacklegged tick that carries the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease is present in the Ottawa area, across Eastern Ontario, and the Outaouais region of Quebec.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is included in a cleanup kit?

  • Cleanup Starter Kits include: Nitrile gloves, garbage bags, and recycling bags. Please note, Cleaning the Capital staff are no longer distributing leaf and yard waste bags.

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.

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.

What is my registration code? How can I obtain it?

Your Cleaning the Capital registration code is provided to you in an email upon confirmation of your registration. It is used to submit your online Cleanup Report at the end of your project.  If you have misplaced your registration code, please contact us at cleaning@ottawa.ca.

What if I need to update my registration? 

If you need to make any changes to your registration (i.e. reschedule your cleanup project date, choose a new project location, etc.), please contact us at cleaning@ottawa.ca so that we can update your registration.  Please ensure you provide your registration number. 

What types of projects are available?

Litter pickup projects in public spaces 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.

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:

You can also take part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

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

  • Ensure your group of volunteers compost, recycle and dispose of waste properly.
  • Bring your cleanup project garbage home whenever possible for your regularly scheduled collection day.  Please remember to respect the six-item waste limit, excluding recycling. Visit Garbage and Recycling for more information.
  • Arrange for on-site waste/litter pickup. If you have collected large quantities of waste/litter, contact Cleaning the Capital staff at cleaning@ottawa.ca on the day of your cleanup event to submit a pickup request. Remember to provide your registration code, quantity of bags, exact pickup location (closest address, intersection, landmark, etc), and if possible, a photo of the waste/litter you have collected. Ensure all items are left at one location which is easily accessible and must not impede any pedestrian, cycling, or vehicular traffic. Please note: Waste/litter pickup will take place during regular business hours (Monday to Friday). Pickup requests submitted on weekends will be actioned on the next business day.
  • Please do not leave any hazardous materials at the cleanup site. Bring all toxic materials to one of the City’s one-day Household Hazardous Waste Depots. If you’re unable to dispose of these items, please contact 3-1-1.
  • Leave extremely large or unsafe items where they are found. Do not attempt to move them. Call 3-1-1 immediately for disposal instructions.
  • 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 items from your cleanup project site, please contact us at cleaning@ottawa.ca. We will make special arrangements on your behalf to have the items picked up and properly disposed of during regular business hours. Remember to provide us with your registration number and the exact location of the large items such as the closest municipal address, landmark, or nearest intersection.

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.

Resources:

Student 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 online cleanup report prior to the submission deadline.

Students will receive a confirmation of their community involvement hours via email. If you have any questions, please contact cleaning@ottawa.ca.