Cleaner Communities and Waterways

Don’t let your household trash become your community’s litter.

By taking care to properly dispose of our trash and recycling, we can reduce litter on our streets and pollution in our waterways.

Here are some simple tips to keep your neighborhood clean, by making sure your household trash doesn’t spill:

  • Keep the lid closed and do not overfill the can.
    • Trash from an open or overflowing can may fall onto the street and blow into your yard and greenspaces. An open can also attracts rats and other pests.
    • If your trash does not fit, use 311 to request a free bulk trash pickup. You can also take bulk trash, recyclables, electronics, and hazardous waste to the Fort Totten Transfer Station at no cost.
  • Bag your trash before putting it in the can.
    (Do not bag recyclables; place items clean, empty and loose in your blue can.) 
  • Bagging your trash will make sure nothing spills into the street or alley when trash collectors empty your container.
    • Plastic bags do not belong in recycling cans. Use paper bags if you would like to bag recyclables. Plastic bags can be damaging to the machinery used to sort recyclables.
  • Place trash in can outside shortly before pickup. Your recyclables should be “clean and empty”.
    • The longer trash sits outside, the greater the opportunity for rats and other pests to get into your bin and create a mess. Depending on the weather, trash sitting outside can cause unpleasant odors.
    • You can find your trash collection day at Remember to “slide” for holidays!
  • Call 311 or visit for assistance with cans needing repair or replacement.
    • Has your trash can lid been damaged by rats? Place a 311 request for a new lid.

Your behavior has downstream effects on the litter in your community.  Once trash is on the ground it can be washed away in the rain.  The District’s sewer system can dump everything from the street into the rivers, so picking up trash helps keep our environment clean as well as our neighborhood!

For more tips to reduce the amount of trash you produce at home, visit To get involved in community cleanups of your neighborhood or parks, visit our Adopt Your District website.

Our tips are available to download and print if you’d like to have helpful reminders at your home.  

More About This Project

Mayor Bowser’s Office of the Clean City has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Trash Free Waters Program to test ways to reduce the amount of trash falling onto our neighborhood streets and sidewalks.

As part of a pilot research project, five communities were selected for an observational study on litter levels in alleys and around residential trash cans. In partnership with DC’s Department of Public Works and Department of Energy & Environment, USEPA identified key behavior change tips that could reduce the amount of litter in alleys and streets. MOCC observed litter levels before and after residents received the sticker to evaluate if there was any behavior change or any change in amount of litter. 8000 homes received a sticker in November 2020.

The team will hold focus groups this winter to learn more about residents’ reactions to the project and messages. For more information, contact us at [email protected].

If your neighborhood was not part of the pilot but you would like to print and distribute stickers to your neighbors, please contact us for the files. If this project proves to be successful, we hope to deploy it Districtwide in 2021.