Resources for Sweep Leaders

Riverkeeper staff with trash collected at the 2020 Riverkeeper Sweep at Annsville Preserve in Peekskill, NY.

The 10th Annual Riverkeeper Sweep is scheduled for Saturday, May 1, 2021. For general information, visit the main Riverkeeper Sweep page here.

DAY OF MATERIALS:

PROMOTIONAL RESOURCES:

TRAINING WEBINARS:

PLANNING TOOLS:

Hudson River Estuary Program Trees for Tributaries Program
Do you know of a stream that could benefit from having more trees growing along it? The Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs Program offers free native trees and shrubs for planting along tributary streams in the Hudson River watershed. The program also offers support planning, preparing, advice, and more. Apply by March 1st for spring planting projects in May or June 2021. For more information and to apply, visit: https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/43668.html

Photos of the 2020 Riverkeeper Sweep (download and use for your own promotions; if you need something you don’t see here, contact us for help).

Photos of the 2019 Riverkeeper Sweep (download and use for your own promotions; if you need something you don’t see here, contact us for help).

Photos of the 2018 Riverkeeper Sweep (download and use for your own promotions; if you need something you don’t see here, contact us for help).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I organize a Sweep cleanup?
How do I order the free trash bags?
Do volunteers have to register?
What breweries are participating?
How will I get my T-shirt? What about my volunteers?
How can I get more people to register for my project?
Too many people are registering for my site. What can I do?
What should I do to prepare for Saturday, May 1?
How do we recycle the trash we clean up?
Is the Riverkeeper Sweep rain or shine?
My cleanup involves kayaking, canoeing or other activity in the water. Are there guidelines for this?
On the day of the event, what is expected of me as a Sweep Leader?
How will raffle prizes be chosen and distributed?

How do I organize a Sweep cleanup?
Call or e-mail Jen Benson (914-478-4501 ext. 234 or [email protected]) and we’ll help you get started, and give you the tools you need to organize a successful cleanup.

How do I order the free trash bags?
The Riverkeeper Sweep is part of the National River Cleanup, so you can access free bags and other helpful items by registering your site with American Rivers. Register early to ensure timely delivery.

Do volunteers have to register?
Registration for volunteers will open on April 1, so check back for more information then. Registration is an important component of the Sweep because only registered volunteers are eligible for any raffle prizes or coupons for free beverages at participating breweries. Registration also includes a liability waiver. It also makes it easier for you as a leader, allowing you to predict the number of volunteers to expect and reduce paperwork on the day of the event. Please ask volunteers to register in advance.

What breweries are participating?
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Riverkeeper has historically partnered with breweries across NYC and the Hudson Valley who generously have provided 1 free drink per volunteer who visit their establishment on Sweep day. Given the severe and on-going economic ramifications of the COVID-19, we are not asking our brewery partners to provide 1 free drink per volunteer who visit them on Sweep day. Instead, we hope our Sweep volunteers will visit the brewery closest to them,  and purchase beverages to consume at home with family members or housemates. For a full list of our brewery partners, visit ww.riverkeeper.org/sweep.

How will I get my T-shirt? What about my volunteers?
We haven’t yet ordered T-shirts for 2021, but we expect to send all Sweep leaders t-shirts. Quantities of t-shirts will also be available for volunteers and can be purchased on EventBrite during registration. This year, t-shirts will also be available for purchase for those who cannot attend Sweep on the Riverkeeper Store.

How can I get more people to register for my project?
First, don’t get discouraged if not very many people have signed up in the first two weeks. Each year, we see a flood of registrations in the last week before the cleanup. But don’t count on it. With dozens of service project sites, Riverkeeper is doing as much as possible to promote the event as a whole, through the press, and by reaching out to the roughly 50,000 people in our network, as well as through services like Volunteer Match, UlsterCorps, New York Cares and the Volunteer Center. We will be promoting the event on Metro-North Hudson Line platforms, in partner businesses and elsewhere.

You, however, are best positioned to recruit local volunteers. Here are the four most important ways you can help:

  • Post our Sweep flier in libraries, community centers and other places where people gather and learn about community events.
  • Make sure your cleanup is listed online in community calendars where people learn about upcoming local activities.
  • Invite your friends on Facebook and other social networks.
  • Promote your site through e-mail and social media

Too many people are registering for my site. What can I do?
What a good problem to have! If your site can’t accommodate more volunteers, let us know and we can stop registration and direct willing volunteers to other sites that need their help. Just contact us at [email protected].

What should I do to prepare for Saturday, May 1?
Please visit your cleanup site. You should be familiar with the terrain and any potential hazards. You should have a good idea where volunteers should go to pick up the trash, where to collect it and whether you’ll need to post signs, balloons or other guides to help participants find the meeting location. Try to anticipate the questions you’ll get from volunteers, and find the answers. Take photos and share them with Riverkeeper. The best photos showcase the beauty of the shoreline juxtaposed with the ugliness of the trash that we’ll clean up. Use these photos on Facebook and other social networks to help recruit volunteers! Finally, check out our Sweep Leader Training Webinars – registration coming soon at the top of this page!

How do we recycle the trash we clean up?
First, have a conversation with the trash hauler you’ve arranged; make sure you separate recyclables in a way that makes it easy for them to follow through on your good intentions. Second, check out these tips from Zero to Go. Third, register with Terracycle for resources to help recycle hard-to-recycle waste, like cigarette butts and snack bags (please select username “NFPRiverkeeperSweepYourSiteName” (ie.”NFPRiverkeeperSweepRiversidePark”).

Is the Riverkeeper Sweep rain or shine?
Yes! We recommend hosting your cleanup, rain or shine—but the decision ultimately lies with you, the leader. You may postpone if necessary—particularly if thunder, lightning or the severity of weather creates dangerous conditions. If you do postpone your cleanup, you should make contact with each of your volunteers, and visit your site to communicate the postponement directly with any volunteers who show up. But please don’t be too quick to postpone. Generally, volunteers are willing to come out for cleanups even if the conditions are a little uncomfortable.

My cleanup involves kayaking, canoeing or other activity in the water. Are there guidelines for this?
The most important thing is the safety of your volunteers. Water temperature and the air temperature must total 120 degrees or more to avoid the risk of hypothermia. Weather and river conditions must be calm. Volunteers must have the experience necessary to safely join the on-water cleanup. If any of these conditions can’t be met, volunteers should not be allowed on the water.

On the day of the event, what is expected of me as a Sweep Leader?
There are several things that Leaders will need to do on the day of the Sweep, and an abridged summary is available below. For a full guide of what to do and expect on Sweep day, view the second Sweep Leader Webinar, and the Day-Of Guide linked above:

  • Arrive earlier than your volunteers. Get your bags ready to distribute, along with any other materials or refreshments you’ve obtained.
  • Check-in registered volunteers, using the EventBrite app or a paper checklist. For any volunteers who have not registered, have them register on paper and sign the liability form.
  • Distribute T-shirts. We will have provided you with the T-shirts and a list of those who ordered T-shirts and their sizes.
  • Take photos. Last year we got great photos! This year we would love to gather many more photos, including some that of high enough quality to print. Take action shots of people cleaning the shoreline. Get pictures of smiling faces. Take at least one good group shot of your volunteers and the pile of trash they remove from the shore. Take photos of any particularly unusual or noteworthy trash you remove.
  • Share your success in real-time. Use Facebook and other social networks to broadcast the results of your Sweep. Post photos of your volunteers at work, of those unusual items you remove from the shoreline and your group shot. When using Facebook, whenever possible “tag” Riverkeeper’s Facebook page by writing @HudsonRiverkeeper. Follow us on Instagram and tag us in your Instagram and Twitter posts using @Riverkeeper and with the hashtags: #RiverkeeperSweep #TrashFreeHudson #HudsonSweep or #NYCSweep.
  • Share your results with Riverkeeper. To meet press deadlines, we will need to tally the total number of volunteers and the total number of bags and/or tonnage of trash removed. Please plan to send or call in this information to us at the end of your Sweep. You can reach Jen Benson on her cell phone at: 585-943-7454.

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