Litterbugz plan to clean up Cleveland and suburbsPosted: March 17, 2017
by Briana Barker
It takes 2,200 people to clean up the city of Cleveland, and Jeff Schlekie’s goal is to do just that in April.
Schlekie is the founder of the Litterbugz, a group whose goal is to keep cities and towns clean. He began the group while living in Toledo six years ago. He said the movement started with 600 volunteers and eventually grew to 950.
“My neighborhood at the time was just extremely dirty, and it started with my neighborhood and then expanded to include all of Toledo,” Schlekie said.
Schlekie works in the plumbing industry, and while manning the Litterbugz isn’t his full-time job, it was something he felt called to do on the side.
His plumbing career moved him to Broadview Heights, and now a Cleveland cleanup is scheduled.
At present, Schlekie estimates the organization will have approximately 1,500 volunteers for the April 22 cleanup, but he is looking for more. Both individuals and groups are welcome, he said.
“If anyone has youth groups, sports teams, church members or groups interested, please contact us,” said Schlekie.
Groups of volunteers will meet at 25 different places, and Schlekie hopes to have 100 people at each location. From there, he plans to break volunteers off into groups of five to clean up a designated area.
“We do this because volunteers have an urge to change the culture,” Schlekie said. “We don’t force anyone.”
He said volunteers primarily focus on picking up litter from sidewalks, fences, neighborhoods, parks and highway exits and entrances, but sometimes volunteers take it upon themselves to go the extra mile by cutting grass or performing other beautification tasks.
While the April cleanup will focus on Cleveland and some suburbs, which have yet to be determined, Schlekie also helps organize cleanups all over the country and even led one in Mexico.
Schlekie performs hip-hop style presentations in schools about the importance of cleaning up litter.
According to the Litterbugz website, the two main reasons people litter are inadequate disposal containers and carelessness about a person’s environment.
“There are two million people in Cleveland, if we can just make it a little cleaner,” Schlekie said.
To learn more about the organization or register for the cleanup, visit thelitterbugz.org.