by Katina Hazimhalis, Budget Dumpster
Nearly every community has a nearby waterway, whether a river, lake, bay or creek. Unfortunately, these areas tend to be litter magnets. In fact, nearly 40% of U.S. rivers have been declared too polluted for swimming, fishing or other recreational activities.
Individual people are responsible for creating the trash that clogs our waterways, and it’s often up to individual people to clean that trash up. By hosting a river cleanup project in your area, you can improve the health of your local waterway while also improving community morale – and maybe even inspiring other cleanup projects.
Hosting a successful river cleanup project requires as much planning as elbow grease. Here are the questions you’ll need to answer to get your project off the ground:
1. Where will the cleanup take place?
The first step in planning a river cleanup project is choosing a location. While this may seem straightforward, there are several factors to evaluate before making a final call:
- What’s the state of your waterway? You’ll want to scout out the trashiest location in order to make the biggest impact.
- What’s the accessibility? You need a location with multiple access points so that all volunteers are able to participate. Your cleanup location should not be near dangerous rapids or extremely deep water.
- What’s the water level? In most areas, late spring and fall are the best times for a river cleanup since water levels will be lower, leaving more litter within easy each.
2. How will we find volunteers?
A river cleanup makes a great volunteer activity for scout troops, civic organizations or clubs of any kind. But if you don’t have an established group of volunteers, you’ll have to decide how to get the word out. The first step is to create listings for the event on volunteer meetup sites and/or Facebook. But there are plenty of other methods you can use, like utilizing Facebook ads, alerting local media outlets or approaching local environmental groups.
If your river cleanup will take place entirely on public property, such as within a park, then no permit is needed. However, if your cleanup will cross over onto private or city-owned property, you’ll need to track down the owners and get their written permission before the cleanup. While this can take time and effort, it’s extremely important to do your due diligence when it comes to gaining permission.
4. What will we do with the trash?
Once the cleanup is complete, you’ll want to make sure that all the trash you collected ends up in the right place. Find out what kind of recycling services are available in your area and, if possible, make a plan to separate recyclables from the rest of the trash. For the remaining debris, you’ll need to find out whether the city will provide trash collection for your river cleanup. If not, you’ll need to either rent a dumpster or find a volunteer with a pickup truck to haul the trash to the landfill.
Here’s to healthier rivers!
Katina Hazimihalis is a content writer for Budget Dumpster. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. This post was adapted from Budget Dumpster’s River Cleanup Guide. Check out the full guide for in-depth, start-to-finish advice on planning a river cleanup event, covering everything from advertising your cleanup to securing the necessary permits.