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10th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep – Our Biggest Yet


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Check out the results of our May 1 day of service, the Riverkeeper Sweep encompassing hundreds of miles of shoreline in NYC and the Hudson Valley. Help us find new locations for cleanups by submitting our Prospective Community Cleanup Location Survey.

The results are in!
Volunteers turned out in record numbers for the biggest ever shoreline cleanup along the Hudson River on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Together we achieved significant results during this annual day of service:

  • 212 tires removed
  • 100+ trees and shrubs planted or maintained
  • 2,607 volunteers participated
  • 146 projects completed
  • 29 tons of debris cleaned up

This includes 2,056 bags of trash, 2.7 tons of recycling, and 2 tons of tires, as well as other large debris including couches, toilets, metal pipes, plywood, barrels, ropes, and styrofoam blocks.

Check out this video created by our partner, Outdoor Promise celebrating their Sweep project at Muchattoes Lake:

View a photo album with highlights from along the river.
Riverkeeper Sweep 2021

This effort is made possible by our Sweep Leaders, volunteers, sponsors, brewery and community partners involved in this year’s Sweep. Community organizations, schools, scout troops, religious communities and others team up to achieve visible, lasting results.

Together we’re slowly turning the tide on plastic pollution.

Year in and year out, single-use plastics including food packaging and bottles continue to be some of the most commonly found trash at Sweep projects. There have been significant wins in the effort to reduce the volume of single-use items in the environment, such as the 2015 Federal Microbeads Free Waters Act, the 2019 New York State Bag Waste Reduction Law, and the 2019 New York City bill to restrictions on the sale or use of certain expanded polystyrene items.

In 2021, plastic bottles and bottle caps remained the most common type of trash along the shorelines. Other common items include food wrappers, other types of beverage containers, and cigarette butts.

The trash cleanups also yield some surprising finds. This year we found a motorcycle helmet, shopping cart, tiny teacup, large couch, television, toilet bowl, child’s bike seat, and a headless dinosaur, among other things.

What we’ve achieved in a decade 

Volunteers may gather debris by land, or by water – often using kayaks and small craft, plant trees, remove invasive species, or restore street ends of urban waterways. Over the course of ten years, the Riverkeeper Sweep has involved 951 projects, and over 18,000 volunteers who have removed 305 tons of debris, including 32 tons of recycling and 1,675 tires. Volunteers have also planted or maintained over 4,655 trees and native plants, and removed hundreds of pounds of invasive species.

Over the last decade, some locations have shifted from being historic illegal dump sites with large cleanups to small projects after several consistent years of Sweep. While some sites need very small or no longer need projects, other locations, particularly in NYC and at select sites upriver, continue to find large amounts of trash each year.

As Sweep continues to grow over the next ten years, both by developing partnerships in new communities, and deepening relationships in communities we work with at present, we seek new Sweep sites and Sweep Leaders across the watershed. We plan to incorporate more planting and invasive species removal projects, and intend to provide training for our Sweep Leaders and volunteers to empower them to lead these types of projects in their community during and after Sweep day.

Is there a location in your community in need of a cleanup, invasive species removal, or planting project? Let us know by submitting our Prospective Community Cleanup Location Survey.


Site Sponsors: Dubois Law Group, Century Aggregates, and Bonded Concrete.

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