Celebrating Sanitation Workers: Everyday Heroes in our Community


The thoughts presented in this Sanitation Workers article are the writer’s thoughts and do not represent the views of the organizations they are employed in. Please note that with COVID-19, not all of these suggestions can be done right now, but you can bookmark this article for when circumstances change!

On Friday, June 17th, communities around the world are celebrating the amazing work of sanitation workers. It’s important for us as parents to set an example for our kids and recognize the contributions of sanitation workers to our thriving communities. 

Thank you for helping to keep our communities clean
Thank you for helping to keep our communities clean!

As moms, we influence our children’s outlook on community workers. Sanitation work tends to be unseen in our community, in the alleys, and in the wee hours of the morning. But it’s just as important as all the other work done in our community. Sanitation workers take enormous pride in the job they do and how much it contributes to everyone’s overall quality of life. Today, tomorrow, and the year ahead, let’s recognize our unsung community heroes, who pick up our homes’ trash—even during the pandemic when there was considerable uncertainty and no option to work from home.

6 ways to celebrate and recognize these community heroes.

  1. Greet Sanitaion Workers. Say hi, good morning, thank you, or wave to your sanitation workers. They work early morning hours and a simple gesture can show our appreciation. Or go a step further and make a sign, share a flower or a cupcake!
  2. Educate yourself and your children on Sanitation Workers. With your kids, check out books and DVDs from your public library about sanitation workers. Talk about it. Read about it. Learn about the field. Most may not realize that it’s the 5th most dangerous job in the United States. In the same way that we have school learning modules on firefighters and doctors, sanitation workers deserve our utmost respect.
  3. Encourage our kids to make their job easier. Being mindful about how we pack up our trash and working with our kids on packing it up goes a long way. For example, if a glass jar breaks, let’s encourage our kids to understand that the shards can hurt someone else later when picking up the bag, so let’s pack it carefully together. Another one for cat owners: disposing of cat feces carefully. Or if trash is overflowing, maybe being on standby to pass it to them. We need to protect their health and safety too.
  4. Be generous to community workers. If you’re the owner of a small business or restaurant, offer discounts that you offer a firefighter or another community worker. Or, have your children create a fun snack pack with a cool drink and snack for the sanitation workers to have later. Offer them a gift around the holidays!
  5. An important way to help during trash pickups is to move gingerly around sanitation trucks like school buses, emergency vehicles, etc.. One of the most dangerous periods for sanitation workers is when cars try to pass them. As an example, a few years ago, Maryland added sanitation trucks to their Move Over Laws. Let’s go ahead and be proactive about slowing down and pausing when we see a sanitation truck.
  6. Encourage friendliness with local sanitation workers. The drivers love to respond to the little kids they see by tooting their horns. The kiddos love it too!

Sanitation workers are essential—let’s thank them!

With our families, let’s not only make the jobs of sanitation workers easier (many who are parents too!) but also celebrate and appreciate their essential role for our communities. As moms, it’s a familiar space—we know firsthand the difference that can make.

Special thanks to Hallie Clemm for her input and ideas for this post!