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How to Adopt a Subway, Train or Bus Station Cleanup

We all know that riding public transportation is a good idea. It's fast, it's efficient, it allows you to steer clear of congested roads and highways, it saves money, and, of course, it's good for the environment.

But the stations are not always a pretty sight - and that can make some people decide they may as well take the car.

To encourage even more people to use public transportation, it helps to make the stations clean and attractive. A lot is at stake - last year, about 34 million Americans boarded public transportation every single weekday - saving 4 million gallons of gas per day - not to mention preventing pollution and carbon emissions dangerous to the environment.

But we can do even better. Green Hands USA can help you organize an Adopt A Subway, Train, or Bus Station event to boost public transportation use further by keeping your local stations looking clean and inviting.

How do I Adopt a Public Transportation Station?

You start by gathering a group of friends and neighbors together to clean up for an hour or two. As you clean up your subway, train or bus station, you can talk and socialize-so it's fun to do. And if you want to make it even more of a social gathering, you can all go out together afterwards to celebrate your good work-have a drink, or a meal, or hit the park for a game of Frisbee or touch football.

Clean Ups Prevent Future Litter - and Save Money

By forming an Adopt a Subway, Train, or Bus Station coalition, you're not just picking up litter - you are preventing future litter. Studies have shown that people tend to litter more when they see litter has already accumulated. It makes them feel as if a little more trash won't make a big difference - and besides, they figure that someone else will pick it up anyway. So by cleaning up an area, you actually keep it from getting trashed later.

You're also saving all of us as taxpayers a lot of money. Cleaning up litter costs the local, state and federal governments millions of dollars every year. For example, Georgia alone spends over $17 million per year to pick up litter -mostly along highways. Alabama spends around $7 m.

Simple Steps to Adopt a Subway, Train, or Bus Station

Step 1. Set the date and time

You can make your Transit Station Adoption a one-time event. Or even better, you can make it a regular gathering. Pick a date that is easy to remember so people build it into their monthly calendar - such as, the first Saturday or Sunday of every month, from Noon to 2 PM. Keeping the time frame to an hour or two makes it easy and doable regularly.

Step 2. Get permission

If you're just planning on picking up trash at a bus station, or in the parking lot near a train stop, you're probably fine. But, if you're planning on going onto any train platforms/areas where safety might be a factor, you're going to want to get permission from local authorities first. (Or, alternatively, for scriptwriting purposes, this can be changed to "go to") Tell these officials about your project, why it is important, etc, and make sure they give you the go ahead before you proceed.

Step 3. Pick a Few of Your Friends to Join You

Here's where the fun begins. Ask your friends to come join in so the cleanup is not just a chore, it's a fun social gathering. Cleaning up isn't complicated - you can talk and socialize while you're doing it.

Step 4. Pick the Cleanup Place

There are no set rules here - play it by ear. You can stick with one subway, bus, or train station - make it's cleanliness your ongoing task, the way others have adopted stretches of highways. Or you can let members of the cleanup pick different spots each time - each person's favorite area that needs help -- based on your group's daily commuting and traveling habits.

Step 5. Be Prepared to Go It Alone

If the group doesn't show up one day, be prepared to go it alone.

Step 6. Recruit Volunteers to Make the Event as Successful as Possible

  • Go to the submit your event form and fill in the details about your Beach Cleanup

  • Your event will be featured on the Green Hands USA web site for all to see - and sign up for!

  • And Green Hands USA will also email all volunteers in your area who have signed up on the site to let them know about your event - then they can lend their hands to make your project a success.

Step 7. Get Publicity to Find even more Volunteers

Here, too, Green Hands USA will help you. In addition to publicizing the event on the web site, we'll give you additional tools.

  • FLIERS: Customize the flier template you will also find under spreading the word. Post them in local supermarkets and delis as well as on the bulletin boards of schools, parks, religious institutions and groups like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, the YMCA, etc. Make sure to put on the flier that kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Step 8. Supplies You'll Need

Keep it simple. Don't worry about getting your hands dirty. Gloves are a good idea, but remember, handling money is often dirtier than the litter you'll find. And if you saw a $50 bill on the ground, you know you wouldn't hesitate to pick it up!

  • Trash bags (preferably the recyclable variety)

  • Gloves -- gardening or other heavy gloves to prevent infection from possible cuts or skin punctures from sharp objects

  • Hand Sanitizer - can't hurt if you decide not to wear gloves

  • Stick with a pointed end - to snag paper without bending over

Where to Get Supplies

Ask volunteers to bring as many items as possible from home - or gather them from residents in the community. Include this information in your description of your event on Green Hands USA and in later updates to volunteers about your event.

Useful Website resources for supplies:

Biodegradable gloves, recyclable garbage bags:

Trash Stick:

Step 9: Make it a Party

To add to the fun, you can plan for everybody to do something more social after the cleanup. Ride on the subway or train (or walk -- that's allowed, too) to a place for lunch, or a coffee or a drink or a game of cards. Toast your good work together - you cleaned up and you deserve to celebrate.


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