GREENFIELD, MASS. — What began as a group of volunteers organizing to remove trash from local rivers nearly three decades ago has become an annual event that brings communities together in support of clean water and healthy habitats throughout the Connecticut River Watershed in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Connecticut River Conservancy's (CRC) 27th annual Source to Sea Cleanup is back on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22 and 23, with opportunities for individual groups to set their own specific cleanup days around this time.
The objective is clear: safely collect as much trash as possible to reduce the impact of pollution across all four states of the 410-mile Connecticut River basin, including the tributaries that feed the main river.
Volunteers are organized into groups with Group Leaders coordinating details at different trash sites. Trash tallies are also gathered after each cleanup, contributing to CRC's longstanding database, which is used to inform the nonprofit's work in advocacy to reduce future pollution, support river restoration, and inform the public and policy-makers of issues affecting the environment.
In last year's cleanup, CRC says that more than 1,300 volunteers reported hauling 37 tons of trash from riverbanks and waterways across the four watershed states. Volunteers removed everything from recyclable bottles and cans to fishing equipment, food packaging, tires, televisions, and refrigerators.
More than 12,000 beverage containers were tallied in 2022 alone.
Registration is now open for both Group Leaders and Volunteers to participate. Businesses and community groups are also encouraged to register, and entities able to support cleanup efforts through in-kind or monetary donations are greatly appreciated.
"There are lots of ways to get involved" says CRC's Source to Sea Cleanup Coordinator Stacey Lennard. "Volunteers can report a trash site in need of cleaning, organize and register your own local cleanup group, or be a #RiverWitness on social media."
"It is always great to support an environmental organization, but this is an opportunity for everyone to actually dig in, get their gloves a little dirty, have fun, and make this a better river system for everyone." said Jim Perry, president of the Deerfield River Watershed Association.
CRC promotes #RiverWitness to help people connect with each other online through their shared concern for and appreciation of our rivers. They advise participants to take a photo or video when they are cleaning up the river, or enjoying time outside, or making art inspired by river beauty or river pollution.
"Share it on Instagram," they say, "and be sure to include #RiverWitness and tag @ctriverconservancy."
Group leaders who need help finding a cleanup site can check out CRC's map of reported trash sites in need of adoption. Or they can choose a site of their own. Removing litter from parks, city streets, and neighborhoods contributes to cleaner rivers.
Leaders are encouraged to scout the site out beforehand to determine if it's suitable for their group.
For more information, visit ctriver.org/our-work/source-to-sea-cleanup. To sign up as a Volunteer or Group Leader, register at bit.ly/730-cleanup. For any questions about getting involved, contact Lennard at [email protected].
This Town and Village item was submitted to The Commons.