Keeping Communities Clean for Memorial Day

Keeping our neighborhoods clean as we commemorate Memorial Day and Continue to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month
By: Vince Yuen, Community Organizer

May is an exciting month for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Not only is May AAPI Heritage Month, a month-long celebration that pays tribute to the generations of AAPIs who have shaped our nation’s history, but it is also when we honor and recognize our brave men and women who sacrificed for our freedom. As we commemorate Memorial Day, celebrating what our community has achieved and sacrificed, I encourage all of us right here in California to do our part in honoring our community by keeping it litter-free and beautiful.

As a long-time community organizer dedicated to mobilizing residents to keep our communities clean, I know the holidays can create a bit more trash than we would like. Not only does litter and debris create an unwelcoming and unattractive atmosphere for us, but it also damages the environment and can be harmful to wildlife. So, whether you’re out on a fishing trip, road-tripping, or having a barbeque with your family at the park during this extended Memorial Day weekend, please remember we all have a part to play in keeping our community at its best. To help, here are some simple tips we can all practice to keep our community litter- and debris-free.

  1. Pack out what you bring in. Litter builds up and easily ruins our environment. To prevent this, bring a trash bag with you on your outings to ensure you’re able to easily dispose of your trash. Whether you’re outdoors hiking or picnicking or on a road trip, be responsible and pick up after yourself. I encourage you to go the extra mile and pick up litter you see, even if it’s not yours. Picking up even one piece of trash can make a drastic change if we all work together.
  2. Choose reusable over single-use items. This sustainable practice reduces waste and helps prevent harmful toxins from getting into our water and recreational spaces through litter. Plus, reusable items are more economical in the long run.
  3. Properly dispose of trash, recycling, and broken large items like canopies, chairs, and coolers. Plastic is one of the main contributors to waste and litter. Recycling contributes to a healthier environment when done correctly. Trash and recycling should not mix, and improper sorting can lead to more trash, so please sort your items beforehand, especially if you use cans or plastic water bottles. Leaving large and/or broken items at beaches or parks can be considered illegal dumping, even if it’s near a trash bin, and you could be fined up to $10,000. Don’t take the risk—take it home to dispose of properly.
  4. Secure your load. Make sure you are properly tying down items to your vehicles to prevent them from falling off onto highways and roads during transit. This small step of extra care can go a long way towards keeping our roads safer and cleaner.
  5. Teach your children or families how to be litter conscious. Change starts with you, and this is something I practice in my house too. Pick up small, littered items such as bottle caps, food wrappers, and cigarette butts and dispose of them. Encourage your family to pick up after themselves and educate them on how they can contribute to a cleaner California.

I have made it a priority in my house to maintain and beautify our public spaces. I encourage my family to do the same. I do this because I believe change starts with us, and by motivating our families to do the same, we can create a ripple effect that will also inspire others to participate.

We all want to live in a healthy, clean, and beautiful community. Let’s be diligent and do our part to keep our communities clean, preserving our resources for our children and their futures. Not only is it our responsibility, but it’s also the right thing to do. By making small changes and utilizing sustainable practices, we can keep our spaces clean for future generations.

If you would like to join the statewide movement to keep California litter-free, organize a cleanup in your neighborhood, or order cleanup kits, visit Clean California’s website at

Have a wonderful, clean Memorial Day Weekend, and let’s make zero litter in California our goal!

Vince Yuen, Community Organizer and Founder, Refuse Refuse

Vince Yuen is a regular Californian who cares about creating a clean environment for future generations. He started out by cleaning his block with his two daughters. Through these local clean-up efforts, he discovered others who felt the same way and were already picking up trash.  Word spread to neighbors from all over the city. They came together and joined the Refuse Refuse movement to keep their city clean. Yuen discovered that caring for San Francisco was one of his greatest passions. He established Refuse Refuse in March 2021 and has organized over 1,500 community cleanups. Through a collective community-driven effort of 10,000 volunteers, Refuse Refuse has collected more than 425,000 gallons of litter. Learn more about Vince Yuen and his work at Refuse Refuse by visiting

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