Help a River by Organizing a River Cleanup

annual river cleanup perth photo

Volunteer annual river cleanup. Image credit:Municipality of North Perth

Each year, an appalling amount of trash finds its way into our nation's rivers and streams. These pollutants rob a river of its natural beauty and negatively affect the health of the river and surrounding communities.

But you can easily help remedy this situation by volunteering for -- or organizing -- a cleanup in your community during the 2009 National River Cleanup season, which is sponsored by American Rivers.
As Jeanne Ison, who has organized the Ohio River Sweep, said, "Not only does a cleanup event yield immediate benefits of a cleaner, more pleasing area, it will serve as a wonderful educational tool. Cleanup events motivate people to practice responsible habits and they pass these good habits on to others."

Last year was the most successful National River Cleanup yet; 300,000 volunteers across the country removed toilets, satellite dishes, power tools, bowling pins, a pick up truck, picnic tables, televisions, and a bottle with $500 stuffed in it from our nations' rivers. Overall, 2,400 tons of trash were removed from 56,000 river miles.

Since its inception in 1992, National River Cleanup has raised public awareness about the health of our nation's waterways and inspired people to take action for rivers. Over the years, more than 500,000 volunteers have participated in over 4,500 cleanups, covering more than 100,000 miles of waterways.

How do I organize a river cleanup?
Not sure where to start? American Rivers has plenty of tools for organizers including volunteer recruitment tools, a Cleanup Organizer's Handbook, and the all important free trash bags. Prospective volunteers can quickly find the cleanups nearest to them, sign up for the cleanup of their choice, and keep up to date with all the latest National River Cleanup news. See the Cleanup link here for details.

If you are considering organizing a clean up, Laura Maker, Development Manager at the Milwaukee Riverkeeper, recommends making alliances with other groups, "We work with colleges and universities, grade schools, scout groups, churches, business associations, corporations, and nonprofits. A lot of these groups are looking for ways to volunteer and the river cleanup is the perfect opportunity."

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