Sound Rivers teaming up to clean up the Tar — and you can too!

(Photo by Charles Thrasher)

Sound Rivers is teaming up with partners and the public to clear trash from local waterways this weekend.

Sunday at 10 a.m., volunteers will gather at the Town Common boat ramp in Greenville and hop aboard a fleet of kayaks and canoes to paddle down the Tar River to Port Terminal. Armed with gloves, grabbers and trash bags, they’ll be picking up whatever trash they find along the way.

“Trash and litter are always an issue in the river, especially in the Greenville section of the Tar, but we’ve gotten more reports this year than before — people on the water seeing trash and people seeing trash along the roadways, which ultimately ends up in the rivers,” said Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell.

Sound Rivers, based in Raleigh, Washington and New Bern, is partnering for the first large-scale cleanup of the year with East Carolina University’s The Coastal Society, Pirates on the Water and Water Resources Center, along with kayak/paddleboard rental company Knee Deep Adventures and R.A.W. Plastics, in honor of Earth Day. Past cleanups have yielded the expected trash and litter, but also a few surprises.

“We find anything you can imagine. There’s always lots of plastic: plastic bottles, plastic takeout containers, lots of fast-food stuff like straws and lids. This year, there’s PPE. Then there’s the weird stuff — depending on the river level, you can pull out tires, old appliances, bicycles, anything. Pretty much everything ends up in the river. You never know what you’re going to find,” Howell said.

The public is invited to join Sunday’s Earth Day cleanup. Those interested in being on the water are welcome to bring their own kayaks, canoes, jon boats or power boats, which are especially helpful in shuttling trash from vessels to the collection point. Howell noted that there is no shuttle from the end destination of Port Terminal back to Town Common, so participants need to plan their own transportation back to the starting point.

For those who’d like to participate, but do not have their own vessels, an on-land cleanup of the greenway will be happening simultaneously. Grabbers, gloves and bags will be provided.