News > News > Get Involved > Results are in from 6th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep: 26 tons of trash cleared from 102 shoreline locations, NYC to Adirondacks

Results are in from 6th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep: 26 tons of trash cleared from 102 shoreline locations, NYC to Adirondacks

Contact: Leah Rae, Riverkeeper
lrae@riverkeeper.org, (914) 478-4501 ext. 238

Riverkeeper Sweep 2017

Ossining, N.Y. – The results are in: 1,765 volunteers hauled 26 tons of trash, tires, assorted junk and recyclable plastic away from Hudson Valley and New York City shorelines at 102 locations earlier this month as part of the 6th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep.

The local projects were led by schools, boating and fishing clubs, scout troops and other community organizations in partnership with Riverkeeper, carrying out a day of service for the Hudson River Estuary. The effort stretched 250 miles, from the Upper Hudson community of North Creek in the Adirondacks down to Brooklyn’s waterfront at New York Harbor.

Volunteers gathered debris by land and water, by boat and paddle board. Some teams planted native grasses or cared for newly planted trees. Teams turned out along tributaries like the Wallkill River and Esopus Creek, and in parks like Malcolm X in Poughkeepsie and Randall’s Island in NYC. Some continued long-running efforts to restore natural areas for the public to enjoy, ranging from an overgrown lot on Newtown Creek in Brooklyn to Sojourner Truth Park in New Paltz.

Results reported by local team leaders are as follows:

• Project locations: 102
• Volunteers: 1,790
• Trees and bushes planted or maintained: 568
• Bags of trash: 1,304
• Bags of recycling: 300
• Number of tires: 117
• Weight of total debris collected: 51,301.5 pounds / 25.7 tons*

*An estimate based on volumes of trash, recyclables, tires, scrap metal, large pieces of Styrofoam and other shoreline debris collected

As in previous years, the most commonly found items of trash were foam pieces, foam containers plastic bottles. Some uncommon finds: two toilets, a giant teddy bear, a 1950s television set, and parts of a Subaru.

Volunteers also reported wildlife sightings, a reminder of the reasons for the effort: Loons, for example, were spotted in New York City and Cold Spring.

The Sweep effort aims to build stewardship over local waters and reduce trash pollution that can harm wildlife. Trash such as plastic can harm aquatic life by attracting and releasing contaminants into the water and ingestion by fish.

The effort has removed 191 tons of trash from the shorelines since 2012. For the first time in the 6-year history of Sweep, quantities of trash at many Hudson Valley locations were lower than ever, while volunteer numbers held steady. Some project leaders said they will look for a new project site next year because their long-time project site is now free or nearly free of trash. Despite sizable reductions at many sites, some projects continue to find large amounts of trash every year, particularly in New York City and select sites up river.

“We’re incredibly lucky to work with over 120 community groups, partner organizations and individuals across New York City and the Hudson Valley who share our vision for a trash free Hudson. Without their dedication and partnership, Sweep would not be possible,” said Jen Benson, Riverkeeper Education and Outreach Coordinator.

“Scouring the waterfront for trash is like a treasure hunt, and everyone from toddler to octogenarian had a fantastic day,” said Haven Colgate of the Hastings Conservation Commission, who led a shoreline cleanup in Hastings-on-Hudson. “We felt proud to be removing some big, imposing pieces of debris, but perturbed by the plastic slurry of small particles that mingle ubiquitously with the sand grains.”

“When people realize what good work is being done, it just snowballs,” said Neil Bettez, Village of New Paltz Shade Tree Commissioner, who leads an annual project in partnership with New York Department of Environmental Conservation Trees for Tribs program. “Sweep is a catalyst that has made people a lot more excited about Sojourner Truth Park landing and has brought people back down to the Wallkill River and a place that has been under-appreciated for years.”

“We continued ongoing cleanup and restoration work at the Penny Bridge site in Brooklyn, a former bridge crossing on Newtown Creek which has sat empty; overlooked and overgrown for many years,” said Willis Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance. “The site has an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline, the new Kosciuszko Bridge and of course the Creek itself. Although a challenged environment, we hope our efforts can make a small impact in bringing back nature and community to Newtown Creek. One highlight of our sweep event was having a loon hang out on the water as we toiled away.”

Riverkeeper is a member of the Trash Free Waters Partnership, a collaboration across public, private, & nonprofit sectors to reduce plastic & debris in all water bodies, primarily in the New York / New Jersey region.

At eight sites, volunteers conducted a detailed survey on the contents of shoreline trash. At the Flushing Bay cleanup, led by Guardians of Flushing Bay and Empire Dragon Boat Team, these were the most common items in the survey:

Small foam pieces: 1,000+ (folks stopped counting)
Large foam pieces: 539
Bottle caps: 375 plastic, 70 metal
Bottles: 266 plastic, 69 glass
Straws and stirrers: 211
Plastic pieces: 192
Glass pieces: 164
Forks, knives, spoons: 135
Cigarette butts: 122

Almost all Riverkeeper Sweep projects were held the same day, Saturday May 6, but a handful were scheduled on other dates in May.

The 2017 event had a greater geographic reach than in previous years, extending north of Troy to the first time into the Upper Hudson to Schuylerville and North Creek.

A greater number of local breweries participated this year in the “Sweep to Your Brewery” event following the May 6 cleanups. Volunteers were invited to meet after the Sweep at 26 breweries offering a free beverage to those who participated in projects: Albany Pump Station (CH Evans Brewing Co.), Albany; Angry Orchard, Walden; Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn; Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, Elmsford; Crossroads Brewing Company, Athens; Defiant Brewing Co., Pearl River; Greenpoint Beer and Ale, Brooklyn; Gun Hill Brewing Company, Bronx; The Guilded Otter, New Paltz; Hudson Valley Brewery, Beacon; Industrial Arts Brewing Company, Garnerville; Keegan Ales, Kingston, Kings County Brewers Collective, Brooklyn; Mill House Brewing Company, Poughkeepsie; Newburgh Brewing Company, Newburgh; North River Hops and Brewing, Wappingers Falls; Other Half Brewing, Brooklyn; Peekskill Brewery, Peekskill; Plan Bee Farm Brewery, Poughkeepsie; P&G Restaurant, New Paltz; SingleCut Beersmiths, Astoria, Queens; Suarez Family Brewery, Hudson; Transmitter Brewing, Long Island City; Two-Way Brewing, Beacon; Yard Owl Craft Brewery, New Paltz; Yonkers Brewing Company, Yonkers.

Sponsors of the event were: JSA Financial, Ironshore, Adams Fairacre Farms, The Angry Orchard, Avangrid Foundation, EILEEN FISHER, MEC, Orvis and The Patricia Nelson and Charles Matkowski Charitable Fund.

Updated May 25, 2017

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