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11th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep results: Rain couldn’t stop 1,100+ volunteers

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Sweep at Newtown Creek, NYC
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Check out the results of our day of service May 7, 2022, the 11th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep, encompassing hundreds of miles of shoreline in NYC and the Hudson Valley.

Please save May 6, 2023, for the 12 Annual Riverkeeper Sweep! Would you like to suggest a project? Help us find new locations for cleanups by submitting our Prospective Community Cleanup Location Survey.

The results are in!

Sweep at Newtown Creek, NYC

Despite cold temperatures and pouring rain in some locales, more than 1,100 volunteers participated in the Hudson River’s largest annual shoreline cleanup on Saturday, May 7, 2022. Together we achieved significant results during the 11th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep:

18 tons of debris cleaned up

134.5 tires removed

1,370 trees and shrubs planted or maintained

124 projects completed

1,159 volunteers involved

The 18-ton grand total includes 872 bags of trash, 1.3 tons of recycling, and 1.6 tons of tires, as well as other large debris including scrap metal, car and boat parts, Styrofoam blocks, bed frames, mattresses, 50-gallon barrels, and propane tanks.

Among the 1,159 volunteers were many moms and caregivers who devoted part of their Mother’s Day weekend to caring for the Hudson and streams that feed it.

In Hyde Park, Sweep leader Patty described why her gift to herself – for Mother’s Day and her birthday – was a cleaner stream, a little tributary of the Maritje Kill, which flows to the Hudson. Hear her story via Instagram, below.


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Riverkeeper Sweep 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.

What’s in Hudson River trash?

Sweep at Stuyvesant Falls Park

Year in and year out, single-use plastics including food packaging and bottles make up the bulk of the trash at Sweep projects. We’ve had 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. But clearly, we have more to do.

In 2022, 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. Stay tuned for a detailed survey of the trash collected at two of the 124 locations.

The trash cleanups also yield some surprising finds. This year we found a box of 2011 SpongeBob Squarepants ornaments, bucket of tar, sleeper couch, kayak, cornhole board, smart tablet, washing machine, heating system, and message in a bottle.

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 1,068 projects, and over 19,000 volunteers who have removed 322 tons of debris, including 32 tons of recycling and 1,810 tires. Volunteers have also planted or maintained over 6,025 trees and native plants, and removed thousands of pounds of invasive species. This year the event stretched from Staten Island to the Adirondack Mountains – an incredible scale of effort happening in just one day.

Riverkeeper Sweep locations and volunteers by year

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.

Tons of waste & number of project locations

As Sweep continues to grow over the coming 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.

View a photo album with highlights from along the river.

Riverkeeper Sweep 2022

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.

2022 Sweep Sponsors

Site Sponsors: Century Aggregates and Bonded Concrete; Homelight

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