Pick Up the Poconos Day
Thank you to all the volunteers who participated in Pick Up the Poconos Day on September 23, 2023!
Check back for information on our spring event taking place April 20, 2024.
Since 2018: 33,705+ bags collected / 1,667+ miles covered
Help us preserve the natural beauty of the Pocono Mountains.
The pristine scenery of the Poconos region has inspired visitors and residents alike for centuries, and we want future generations to continue to enjoy the beautiful local landscapes and to feel that spark of connection with the environment while experiencing our hills, forests, lakes and rivers...but we need your help!
At least 33,705 bags of litter have been picked up across 1,677 miles and properly disposed of through Pick Up the Poconos initiatives over the last five years, and we're just getting started. Keep reading to learn more about the wide variety of local efforts to keep the Poconos clean and green and how you can get involved.
Leave No Trace
Over the last five years, the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau has invested funding, time and resources into a variety of environmental efforts, including biannual Pick Up the Poconos litter clean-up days, our new partnership with Leave No Trace, and the Pocono 3C program and Adopt-A-Highway program which see participants helping to pick up the streets year-round. Approximately 33,705 bags of litter have been picked up and properly disposed of through Pick Up the Poconos programs and partnerships, and we know that there are many independent, dedicated individuals, groups, organizations and associations throughout the Poconos that have been working hard throughout the years to keep litter at bay. We want to be an advocate, resource and supporter of those efforts as well and to celebrate the sustainable practices of properties and businesses in the area.
If hiking the area's trails, riding the region's rivers or viewing the local wildlife brings you refreshment and fun, why not take a little time out of your trip to give back to Mother Nature. Review our Leave No Trace principles to be a steward of the local ecosystems you're visiting, save the date to take part in the next Pick Up the Poconos Day, or even organize your own clean-up!
Did you know the "Father of the American Conservation Movement," Gifford Pinchot, called the Poconos home? Help us continue that legacy of caring for the great outdoors by following the Leave No Trace principles below. Watch our video to prepare for sustainability success ahead of your day in the fresh air.
If you are headed for a more popular destination, try to visit at off times like on weekdays, early in the mornings or later in the day. Parking at popular areas fills up fast, so have a backup plan in case it is full when you arrive.
Research the area you plan to visit ahead of your trip. Protect yourself and other group members by selecting an outing that fits your group's abilities. Check local rules, regulations, weather and the terrain. Wear sturdy shoes and pack clothes to protect you from the sun, cold, heat or rain. Bring plenty of water and food for your group. Preparing properly will ensure you are safe and enjoy your outing.
Walk and ride single file in the middle of designated trails, even if wet and muddy. Walking on the edge of the trail or around mud and puddles can cause loss of trailside vegetation. Always respect private property by staying on designated trails.
Check ATV/UTV requirements. Local rules and regulations may prohibit the use of certain types of motorized vehicles on designated trails. Be sure your vehicle meets width and weight requirements for the type of motorized trail you'll be using.
Camp only on existing or designated campsites to avoid damaging vegetation. Allow yourself plenty of time to find a campsite in areas that do not require a reservation and plan ahead for those that do.
Pack it in, Pack it out. Put litter, even crumbs, peels and cores, in garbage bags and carry it home. Trash, including food waste, is unhealthy for wildlife and can take years to decompose.
If you are bringing a pet, carry bags to pick up and pack out their waste. Pet waste contains bacteria that can be harmful for people, wildlife and water sources when not picked up.
Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others can enjoy an unspoiled landscape. Do not cut or carve into trees and other vegetation. Doing so makes them more susceptible to pests and disease, which could cause them to die.
Help protect our ecosystem and prevent the spread of harmful invasive species by brushing off boots and tires and cleaning, draining and drying your boat before and after every outing.
Use a camp stove for cooking. Stoves are easier to cook on and create less impact than a fire. Always check fire restrictions and conditions before having a fire. If you are allowed to have a campfire, use existing fire rings to protect the ground from heat.
Never burn trash, including food scraps. Burning trash attracts wildlife and releases harmful chemicals into the air. Instead, pack out everything you pack in. Before you leave, burn all wood to ash and douse the fire with water until it is completely out and cold to the touch.
Keep yourself and wildlife safe by observing it from a distance. Approaching or following wildlife may cause it to flee, requiring them to use unnecessary energy or cause it to be injured.
Never feed wildlife. Human food is unhealthy for all wildlife and feeding it can cause it to become a nuisance or even aggressive. Protect wildlife and your food by securely storing your meals and trash.
When passing others on the trail, downhill hikers yield to uphill hikers, bikers yield to hikers and everyone yields to horses. Allow others to pass by using a durable surface such as rock, dirt or dry grass to briefly step aside. Reduce your vehicle’s speed or turn off the engine when passing non-motorized users. This helps reduce dust, prevents horses from being spooked and lets others enjoy their outdoor experience.
Everyone enjoys the outdoors in different ways. While some may go to enjoy the solitude of nature, others may go to spend time with friends and family. Be respectful of other visitors and their experience in the Poconos. Crowds may be common in some of our outdoor areas. Remember, if you are in the crowd, you are part of the crowd. A little patience and understanding will go a long way.
Leave No Trace in the Pocono Mountains
Pick Up the Poconos Campaign
Created by the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau in 2018, Pick Up the Poconos is a campaign designed to reduce litter in the region through a wide variety of efforts, ranging from the biannual region-wide "Pick Up the Poconos Day" events and the daily work of the Pocono Community Caring Company (Pocono 3C) to continuous anti-litter ads, Adopt-A-Highway and roadway litter removal and partnerships with local governments, communities and organizations working to find ways to keep the area clean and green.
From the first Pick Up the Poconos Day on September 29, 2018 to the most recent, eighth Pick Up the Poconos Day on April 22, 2023, a cumulative total of approximately 3,226 volunteers have joined together to clean up roughly 6,044 bags of litter across over 274 cumulative miles of road at regional locations throughout Wayne, Pike, Monroe and Carbon counties.
Pocono 3C is another vital component of Pick Up the Poconos. Created in partnership with the Pocono Mountains United Way, RHD’s Street 2 Feet and The Waste Authority, Pocono 3C gives individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless the opportunity to gain work experience by picking up litter. From June 2019 to July 2023, Pocono 3C has removed 15,913 bags of trash and 906 tires from 1,038 miles of roadway.
The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau has also adopted two roadways in the Poconos, which PMVB employees pick up periodically (215 bags to date), and hired the Adopt-A-Highway Litter Removal Service of America, Inc. to clean six times per year on Interstate 80, Interstate 380, Route 33, and numerous highway entrance/exit ramps (13,442 bags picked up to date).
Clean-Up Tips & Resources
Don't just walk or drive by that piece of trash; make a difference and pause to clean it up. Better yet, bring some friends along to help! Check out these 5 tips to get started organizing your own clean-up. Be sure to contact and coordinate with your township, county, or municipality office. They may be able to help with bags, gloves, cones, etc. as well as retrieving bags when your group is finished picking up. Advance notice will also reduce risk in picking up litter along a roadway.
Whether you're participating in a Pick Up the Poconos Day or your own event, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when cleaning up litter.
- Wear reflective clothing (such as a reflective vest) when working on, or alongside, a roadway and protective clothing, such as long pants, closed-toe shoes, and safety glasses.
- Bring along gloves or a picker or grabber arm. Be sure to keep bug spray, sunscreen, a cell phone, a first aid kit, snacks, and water on hand.
- If you are working 15 feet or closer to the road...
- Make sure you put up cones or signs warning drivers. A good rule of thumb is to place signs or cones 10x the speed limit before the start of the work area (ex. If the speed limit is 35mph, place the cones or signs 350ft before the work area).
- Work only during non-peak travel times.
- Work on one side of the road at a time and face oncoming traffic.
- Do not wear headphones to listen to music; you will need to be able to listen for traffic.
- Park all cars as far off the road as you can. Carpool when possible to reduce the number of cars on the side of the road.
- Be aware of traffic and do not cross the road where it is not safe.
- Be alert for hidden holes and rocks as well as plants and animals that may be dangerous.
- Be alert for stinging insects, rodents, snakes, deer, and bears. Leave them alone if spotted.
- Avoid poison ivy (“leaves of three, let it be”) and giant (8-14’ tall stems with small white flowers).
- When finding hazardous or radioactive materials, note location and call the police. A good rule of thumb is: If you do not know what the item is, don’t touch it.
- Do not try to pick up tires, heavy objects, or roadkill. Instead, call 1-800-FIX-ROAD and a time will be scheduled to pick it up.
Whether you're on vacation or at home, be mindful of how you're disposing of your trash. Taking a few minutes to wash out your plastic takeout container and get it in the proper recycling bin can make a difference of a few centuries for the planet!
Looking for more information and inspiration related to energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable living in the Poconos? Get in touch with area services like One for Nature, Sustainable Energy Education & Development Support (SEEDS) and Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority. Take a look at Pennsylvania's Litter Resources Library and "PA Fights Dirty" anti-litter campaign. Local residents: find more information about recycling in your county below.
- Wayne County: recycling center, solid waste disposal locations and other recycling resources
- Pike County: residential recycling services guide
- Monroe County: recycling locations and responsible waste disposal of tires, bulbs and batteries as well as electronics
- Carbon County: contact Carbon County Department of Solid Waste at (610)852-5111
Members of the media can download b-roll for Pick Up the Poconos, Pocono 3C, and Adopt-A-Highway initiatives. Please provide video credit to "Pocono Television Network."
Earth Day Celebration 2023