Organizers pose with the trash collected during the 2017 Great Mansfield Cleanup.

With spring coming, volunteers and municipal leaders in towns and cities across Massachusetts are preparing for the 2019 Great Massachusetts Cleanup.

The Great Massachusetts Cleanup is a program of the nonprofit Keep Massachusetts Beautiful. Every spring, volunteers in communities across the state organize litter cleanups, park improvement projects, tree plantings, and other community service events as part of the cleanup event. In 2018, the organization reports, more than 7,000 volunteers in 100-plus communities removed 132 tons of trash and debris from the Massachusetts landscape.

Neil Rhein, executive director of Keep Massachusetts Beautiful and a Select Board member in Mansfield, said it often falls to local government leaders and volunteers to take action and organize litter cleanups.

The Department of Transportation spends millions of dollars each year to remove litter along major highways, but these efforts remove only a small fraction of the state’s litter. Many of the state’s secondary and local roads are rarely cleaned up, as local public works departments lack the resources to clean on a regular basis.

Much of the state’s litter is comprised of plastic and products that do not decompose, so it continues to pile up year after year, and often makes its way into local waterways and the ocean.

Keep Massachusetts Beautiful provides guidance to communities that want to take action to address litter problems. Rhein said organizing a cleanup event “is an effective way to leverage volunteer labor and to encourage residents to take more ownership over the appearance of their local neighborhoods and streets.”

He added that a cleanup can lead to the formation of a local Keep Massachusetts Beautiful chapter, which can lead to long-term improvements.

The Keep Massachusetts Beautiful network has grown to include 16 local chapters, as communities discover the financial and environmental benefits of organizing local volunteers to focus on litter abatement, waste reduction and recycling, and neighborhood beautification. The town of Mansfield has derived more than $400,000 worth of volunteer labor, cash and in-kind donations since launching Keep Mansfield Beautiful in 2009, Rhein said.

To participate in the 2019 Great Massachusetts Cleanup, visit to download guides or email for more information.