How to host your own spring cleanup!

Environmental, Sound Rivers, Uncategorized

Posted on March 11th, 2021


Cleanups are a positive way to maintain and enjoy our North Carolina watersheds whether on the water in a kayak, or on land along the shore or ditches. The following provides specific information on the details of conducting cleanups with our organization — details you can use to host your own!

We can help you out! Sound Rivers may provide gloves, trash bags and grabbers for use during a cleanup event as supplies allow. Equipment should be requested at least two weeks before your scheduled cleanup and be picked up at your local Riverkeeper office (New Bern and Washington only). Items such as trash grabbers are expected to be returned to the office after the cleanup. Please coordinate with your local Riverkeeper for pick-up/drop-off times and availability. Contact information can be found below.

Planning your cleanup

A favorable time for conducting a cleanup is on Saturday mornings. You should inform your volunteers to wear proper attire — clothes they don’t mind getting dirty, hat, closed-toed shoes — and stay hydrated. Arrangements should be made with your local municipality for trash pickup prior to the event. This is usually in the form of pickup at a designated location. If your cleanup will be at a city or county park, contact the park prior to scheduling the event to make sure no other events are happening at that time and to arrange trash pickup. A designated route for the cleanup should be determined.

On-the-water cleanups

If you would like to host an on-the-water cleanup, a float plan and designated time schedule for being on and off the water should be determined prior to the event. For example, have participants arrive at 9 a.m. to be outfitted and briefed so all can be on the water by 9:30 a.m. Tell participants to head back to the take-out location by 11:30 a.m. so everyone can be off the water by noon. Prior to launching, please go over a safety briefing for participants including instructing new kayakers how to paddle safely and other precautions such as dealing with hazardous trash items or coming in contact with a snake or other wildlife. It is highly recommended that you have 1 safety boat, generally a powerboat, for every 10 participants.

In the interest of safety

When we host clean-ups, we ask that all participants this waiver. You may want to consider using it, too. If a participant is under the age of 18, they should have a parent or guardian sign the waiver on their behalf. All participants should wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) while on the water.

COVID Protocols

In the interest of safety in the middle of a global pandemic, you should instruct participants to adhere to all North Carolina mandates, wear masks and practice social distancing.

For additional guidance on conducting a river cleanup, we recommend American Rivers Organizer handbook, which can be found at

Contact us

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Raleigh area

Upper Neuse Riverkeeper: Matthew Starr

New Bern area

Lower Neuse Riverkeeper: Katy Hunt

Washington area

Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper: Jill Howell

Related News

Sound Rivers working with county on Slocum Creek pollution fix June 13th 2024
NCDEQ verifies Moriah Energy Center sediment pollution June 13th 2024
1 trap, 1 hour, 94 pounds of trash June 13th 2024
Boat day leads to potential algal bloom June 13th 2024
Planning commission member resigns, citing Durham’s deep dysfunction June 13th 2024
3 kayaks donated to Sound Rivers June 13th 2024