News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Thousands of volunteers will ‘Sweep’ the Hudson on Saturday, May 4

Thousands of volunteers will ‘Sweep’ the Hudson on Saturday, May 4

Square-NoBackground-Color (3)

View more images on our Flickr site

8th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep happening at 123 locations, Adirondacks to NYC:
More than 2,000 volunteers will clean shorelines, foster native plants

Ossining, N.Y. – Thousands of volunteers will return to the shorelines in the Hudson Valley and New York City for the 8th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep on Saturday, May 4 – a day of service for the Hudson River.

Riverkeeper Sweep is the largest one-day cleanup in the history of the Hudson River. In the seven years since the first Riverkeeper Sweep in 2012, volunteers have removed more than 227 tons of debris, most of it plastic.

Last year, more than 2,300 volunteers came together at 120 project sites. They removed more than 37 tons of trash, 7,000 pounds of recycling and 192 tires, all in one day.

This year, with 123 projects scheduled, the effort continues to grow in scale. New projects include a cleanup and tree planting at Drew Gardens on the Bronx River, organized by Taino Roots; a cleanup on Iona Island with Scout groups and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and a Hudson River cleanup by kayak in Queensbury, near Glens Falls, with SUNY Adirondack.

Teams of volunteers are organized by local schools, businesses, Scout troops, paddling groups, park staff and others. They remove trash, plant trees and native grasses, and remove invasive plants, in locations stretching from Brooklyn through the Hudson Valley and all the way up to the Adirondack Mountains.

To join in, members of the public can search locations and register at

“Every year we learn more about the alarming amount of plastic polluting our environment. It’s staggering. But every year we push back harder,” said Jen Benson, Outreach Coordinator at Riverkeeper. “New York just became the second state in the nation to put a ban on plastic bags. Sweep volunteers helped make that happen, and we’re not stopping there.”

Riverkeeper Sweep 2018

The one-day cleanup is part of year-round efforts aiming to reduce plastic pollution.

Last year, Sweep participants circulated petitions in support of a New York State ban on single-use plastic bags. Just this month, the ban was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and will go into effect March 1, 2020. The new law will help promote the use of reusable bags instead of the 23 billion single-use plastic bags consumed by New Yorkers annually.

This year, Sweep volunteers will collect signatures to expand the state’s bottle bill, which aims to increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of single-use plastic beverage bottles polluting the environment.

Trash enters the Hudson River and its tributaries from a variety of sources, including rains that wash street garbage into storm drains, illegal dumping, and littering. Much of it washes up on the shoreline – harming wildlife, threatening public health, and affecting the economic vitality of Hudson River communities.

Data collected during certain Sweep projects over the years has identified single-use plastic items – bags, bottles, food containers, utensils – as a major component of shoreline trash, along with cigarette butts, discarded tires, foam and other debris. See the data here.

Community voices on ‘Why I Sweep’

“The Sweep is an awesome experience – close to 200 people join us along the Flushing Bay shoreline – and we collect over 100 large garbage bags filled with trash in addition to large items like tires, wood and pieces of abandoned vessels, among other things. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ are very dramatic, and it’s gratifying for all the volunteers to see the difference they have made.”
Hillary “Scout” Exter, Empire Dragon Boat Team and Guardians of Flushing Bay

“The Sweep is one of the first steps in a whole new phase of advocacy in our long battle to claim our forgotten waterfronts. We, as a community, can now get close enough to the water’s edge to begin to care for its neglected shorelines.”
Lisa Bloodgood, Newtown Creek Alliance, NYC

“Sweep is an opportunity to teach important lessons to our children about human impact on the planet. It’s clear that when you get kids involved in the cleanup – even at a young age – they know that they’re doing something positive. They get excited knowing that they’ve made an impact, all while having fun outside.”
Suzie Ross, Green Ossining

“When I connect people with the river, I become more hopeful for our survival on this planet. Picking up trash that unintentionally or intentionally makes its way into the river or along its banks brings you face to face with your responsibility to ‘be the change,’ and encourage others to be the change as well.”
Jeffrey Scales, JSA Financial, Rhinebeck

“What matters to me is that cleaning up a section of the creek does make a difference: visually, in the health of the creek, and in my heart.”
Sarah Underhill, Rondout Creek Watershed Alliance

Sweep to Your Brewery

Breweries understand the value of clean water, and support the Sweep by inviting all registered volunteers to meet at any of 36 Hudson Valley and New York City breweries and restaurants for a beverage on the house. See the list here.


Leah Rae, Riverkeeper Media Specialist
[email protected], (914) 478-4501 ext. 238

Tell Gov. Hochul to block invasive species at the Erie and Champlain canals
Become a Member