Blogs > Ecology > Riverkeeper Sweep 2019: 2,400 volunteers, 32 tons of trash – in 1 day

Riverkeeper Sweep 2019: 2,400 volunteers, 32 tons of trash – in 1 day


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See the results of the massive May 4 cleanup along the shorelines of the Hudson Valley & NYC. The most commonly found item? Plastic bottles. Help us target pollution by expanding New York’s bottle bill.


The results are in!

Here is what we achieved together on May 4, 2019, during the 8th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep:

Iona Island

2,400 volunteers involved

122 projects completed

32 tons of debris removed

This includes: 22 tons of trash collected in bags, 2.7 tons of recycling, 3 tons of tires, plus other large debris such as vehicle parts, metal pipes, plywood, barrels, carpet, ropes, lawn chairs, shopping carts, crates and more.

314 tires removed

100+ trees and shrubs planted or maintained

Most common item: Plastic bottles

Other common items: Styrofoam, other plastic, cigarette butts

Uncommon items: Snow shoes, snow blower, hair dryer, high school diploma, kitchen sink, toilet, football shoulder pads, garden flamingo, car bumpers, Ford steering wheel, E-Z Pass, half a bowling ball, lawn chairs, bed frame and 7 sleeping bags.

Our thanks go out to the volunteers and partners involved in this year’s Sweep, from Brooklyn to the Adirondacks. You’re part of a great day of service for the Hudson – and part of a growing effort to fight plastic pollution.

“Seeing the amounts of plastic and foam washing up on the shoreline really shows the scale of the problem, and it fires people up to push for solutions, said Jen Benson, Riverkeeper Outreach Coordinator. “In just one day, we removed 31 tons of trash, and most of it, yet again, was plastic. The numbers help tell the story, and add urgency to our efforts to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic.

“We are making progress, and yet there is so much more we can do.”

After the Sweep we ask project leaders to report not only the overall amounts of trash collected at their site, but the most common item found during cleanups. Sixty-five project leaders responded to that question, and the most common item noted, by far, was plastic bottles.

Riverkeeper is supporting a bill aiming to reduce plastic bottle pollution and improve recycling rates in New York State. The bill (Assemblymember Englebright’s A.5028-A) would expand New York’s bottle deposit program to include non-carbonated beverages as well as wine and liquor glass bottles.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that the existing bottle bill has decreased beverage container litter by 70 percent for bottles currently covered – a limited number of carbonated beverages and wine coolers. Please join us in sending Governor Cuomo and your state representatives a message urging their support for this bill.

Last year, Riverkeeper Sweep volunteers helped rally support for New York’s plastic bag ban, which passed this year and will into effect in March 2020. We hope to follow that success by targeting plastic bottles.

The second most common item noted among the shoreline trash during Sweep was Styrofoam. Also noted were cigarette butts, beer cans, plastic bags, and plastic generally. Stay tuned to learn more about what was found in the trash.

To see more detailed data gathered from 12 specific project sites, visit this page and view our infographic.

Flushing Bay Clean Up from Linda Mevorach on Vimeo.

Riverkeeper Sweep 2019

Thanks to our Sweep Sponsors

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