What to Expect

If this is your first time participating in the Source to Sea Cleanup, we welcome you and thank you for joining us. For those joining us again this year — we’re so glad to have you back. It’s volunteers like you who make this whole thing possible!

Whether you are registering as a volunteer participant or planning to lead a group, we’ve pulled together a list to help you prepare for every step between now and your cleanup day. The first step for all volunteers is to complete our registration and waiver form.


Tips for a Great Cleanup

Before the Cleanup

The key to a successful cleanup is early coordination with your team. There are a number of things you need to do and/or consider in the months leading up to the event.

Group Volunteers

Find a Group to Join 

Each cleanup site will have an assigned group leader who will organize the key details for the cleanup day. Visit the Registered Groups map and sign up with a group you know or find a group accepting volunteers.

Having trouble finding a group to join? Contact Stacey Lennard, Cleanup Coordinator at cleanup@ctriver.org or 413-772-2020 x211.

Group Leaders

Are you a Source to Sea Cleanup Group Leader or interested in becoming one? Join us for one or all of these virtual info sessions for tips to lead a Cleanup group – useful for new AND returning volunteers! It’s also a fun way to connect with fellow Cleanup leaders. Attend one or more sessions. All sessions will be recorded and posted on our website. Help make a difference for your rivers!

  • Wednesday, July 14 | 12-1 p.m. | Registration & Site Selection
  • Wednesday, August 11, 4-5 p.m. | Trash Disposal & Tallies | REGISTER
  • Thursday, September 9, 5-6 p.m. | Open Q&A! | REGISTER

Watch past Cleanup Coffee Hours

Identifying where you and your team will clean is typically the first step volunteer leaders take prior to registering for the Cleanup. Good sites can usually be visually identified by a walk or paddle along the river. It is important to visit the site before the Cleanup to identify potential hazards and ensure the safety of all volunteers. Sites need to be safe and accessible for all group volunteers, keeping in mind their ages and abilities. If you are managing a group of children, please review our Child Safety Guidelines.

Need help finding a site? You can:

  • Check out our map of adoptable sites to find one near you
  • Call your Town Manager — they may be able to make a suggestion and your cleanup is helpful to your city, so they should welcome your call!
  • If you are still having trouble or have questions, get in touch — cleanup@ctriver.org or 413-772-2020 x211.

Group sizes can range from a couple of people up to 300 volunteers. You can choose to keep your group private with friends and family or invite the wider community to sign up. Prior to the cleanup day, each group member will need to complete the registration and waiver form. If you have children in your group, please review our Child Safety Guidelines.

Make prep work easier by dividing up responsibilities. Create a list of various jobs that groups or individuals can do while cleaning. Possible assignments include:

  • Arranging for trash pickup (details below)
  • Scouting your trash site
  • Advertising the cleanup
  • Recording the group’s Trash Tally [anchor link]
  • Sorting out recyclables
  • Photographing the day — learn more being a #RiverWitness [anchor link]

Consider the ages and abilities of your volunteers and try to ensure that each person feels their contribution is worthwhile.

We strongly encourage all groups to follow a DIY approach for supplies. Before you head out to get dirty for cleaner rivers, make sure each member of your group has the following:

  • Gloves – rubber or work gloves
  • 2 waste bags – 1 for trash and 1 for recyclables
  • Smart-phone with the Clean Swell app [anchor link below] to track your trash or the Trash Tally form
  • Face mask (optional)
  • Hand sanitizer (optional)

If you need to order supplies from CRC please fill out the supply order form at least 2 weeks before your cleanup date. Supplies will be available for pickup at our Greenfield office (15 Bank Row, Greenfield, MA) or can be shipped to your home.

It’s important to have a plan for where you will dispose of the trash and turn in recyclables as far in advance as possible.

CRC has provided a list of towns willing to accept trash & recyclables as well as dumpsters available for trash disposal. Please only dispose of trash collected from the Source to Sea Cleanup and be sure to call ahead (at least a month in advance).

If your town is not on our partners list, please make a request — many municipalities will generously donate a dumpster or trash pickup services. You should also find out what the town will recycle and how separation should be handled.

If your site has lots of tires, contact the Bridgestone Tires4ward tire recycling program for FREE tire pickup and recycling services. You must apply about one month before your cleanup to participate.

Can’t secure services? If after multiple attempts you are still having trouble finding ways to dispose of your trash/recyclables, please contact us at cleanup@ctriver.org or 413-772-2020 x211.

Town Partners:

  • Massachusetts
    • Agawam Dept of Public Works | 413-821-0600
    • Easthampton Public Works | 413-529-1400 x410
    • Greenfield Department of Public Works | 413-772-1528
    • Holyoke Dept of Public Works | 413-322-5645. Possible to arrange pick-ups.
    • Longmeadow Dept of Public Works | 413-567-3400
    • Montague Transfer Station | 413-863-3213
    • Northampton DPW | 413-587-1570
    • South Hadley Conservation Administrator, Anne Capra | 413-538-5017 x208
  • New Hampshire
    • Lebanon DPW | 603-448-3112
  • Vermont
    • Brattleboro, Windham Solid Waste Management District | 802-257-0272

Dumpster Locations

Montague Transfer Station
11 Sandy Lane
Accepting Cleanup waste Wednesday 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Sat 7 a.m.-12 p.m.

Northampton DPW
125 Locust Street
Dumpster in the rear: Saturdays 7 a.m.-3 p.m

USA Waste & Recycling  Locations – Please contact April Regan to make arrangements for possible additional locations: 860-746-3299 x2478

  • Belchertown, MA – Hulmes Warner Park, 59 State Street
  • Enfield, CT – South River Street
  • Wethersfield Cove, CT (from 9/18-9/28)

Meet or call your team early in the planning season to discuss goals, available resources, and outstanding needs. Check out whether there are other groups nearby and ask them if they’d like to share resources, ideas, or press. Some teams set goals for their cleanups, such as seeing how much they can recycle, promoting the importance of a local stream or increasing their group’s visibility to the community. Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing to remember is be safe and have fun!

Cleanup Day

On the day of the event there are a number of things for both group leaders and volunteers to keep in mind including communicating with your group, capturing the day on camera, and knowing what to do with the different materials and environments you may encounter during your cleanup.

Before you and your group start cleaning, plan to gather to touch base and motivate each other. If you are a group leader, remind your group members to:

  • Look out for and avoid hazards (such as poison ivy, ticks, or unstable banks)
  • Assign one or more person to track the trash you find using the Cleanswell app or Trash Tally form
  • Recycle what you can and dispose of all other trash
  • Report hazardous materials to the group leader who will then report it officially
  • Use a physically distant version of the “buddy system”
  • Wear a personal floatation device if you’re using boats or wading deeper than knee level
  • Review our Child Safety Guidelines if you have children in your group

Be sure to bring a first aid kit and have a plan for how you will communicate with each other throughout the day —cell phones, walkie-talkies, or even a one-time use phone with a number just for that day. Be sure to thank everyone for coming and head out on a high note!

We love to highlight your group’s work. As you take photos please:

  • Try to take clear, close-up photos focused on faces, river backgrounds, and active trash collection — bonus points for people wearing Cleanup shirts!
  • Label them with photographer credit, the names of those pictured and the location of the photo
  • Make sure you and any accompanying minors have signed photo releases as part of the waiver, otherwise we cannot publish them on our website or in the Cleanup Chronicle

Submit your photos to the #RiverWitness campaign and your images will support important advocacy work. As a #RiverWitness, you can help keep the rivers clean and lend your voice to the important advocacy work across the four Connecticut River states.

If your group finds needles or other sharps you should either :

  • Leave it in place and report location to someone who is trained and authorized to deal with sharps (health department, police, etc.), or
  • Make sure only adults handle and dispose of safely
  • Do not dispose of such materials with your regular trash

If you do not have access to a sharps container, place sharps in a puncture-resistant container such as a rigid plastic bottle (laundry detergent) or coffee can with a secure cap.

If your group finds anything you think might be hazardous or volatile, immediately report it to CRC and your State Emergency Response Contact. DO NOT move or otherwise disturb the material — leave it ‘as found.’ Make a note of the location or mark the site for the response team. Non-emergencies and complaints may be reported on the Monday following the Cleanup.

State Emergency Response Contacts

Find proper disposal locations near you and learn more about reporting spills and environmental violations.

Some groups may come across existing living spaces in or near your cleanup site. Our goal is to assist in cleaning up the area only where appropriate and not to disturb active homes. If you come across someone experiencing homelessness, or a living site, please take the following actions:
● Clean areas in groups of three people or more.
● If a person experiencing homlessness is at the site, introduce yourself and explain the purpose of the cleanup and what you are doing there today. Ask if they would like any unwanted items removed and assist with cleaning up such objects.
● If no one is on the premises, only take what is clearly waste and do not remove any clothing, living structures or tents, cooking implements, etc. If you are unsure, leave the items by the living space.
● If appropriate, be prepared to share resources, such as information for shelters in your local community.

After the Cleanup

When the day is done, don’t forget to be sure you submit all the necessary paperwork and share your photos with us. Also, it is never too early to plan ahead for your next cleanup!

Waivers: Individual volunteers, both children and adults, should have already submitted their waivers when they registered to participate. Please confirm with your volunteers that they completed the registration and waiver form. If you have a volunteer join at the last minute, please have them complete the online registration form or have the paper form readily available and return the paper form to: CRC, 15 Bank Row, Greenfield, MA 01301.

Trash Tally: Your Trash Tally data helps us understand and provide a clear picture of trash and pollution issues across all four Connecticut River states to the greater community. The faster you submit, the faster we are able to publish a recap in our Cleanup Chronicle. If you cannot submit your data day of, please do so within one week of your cleanup. NOTE: If you tallied trash using the Clean Swell app, then submit your data to us through the app. You do NOT need to also submit a trash tally.

Have questions? Call: 413-772-2020 x211.

You can submit pictures and video clips to us via social media, or via our form. Please be sure to include photographer credit, the names of those pictured and the location of the photo.

Sharing your photos on social media? Be sure to include the hashtag #RiverWitness and tag Connecticut River Conservancy. Let us know where you are, what brings you to the river, and what sort of river beauty or river pollution you see.

As a #RiverWitness, you can help keep the rivers clean and lend your voice to the important advocacy work across the four Connecticut River states.

Learn More About Being a #RiverWitness

You did it! We are so glad you were able to join us this year. A few things to think about as you wrap up:

Attend a Trash Talk: Learn more about trash laws in your state and how you can join CRC to get involved locally and help stop the flow of trash. Join us for an informal chat about trash and your local waterways.

Donate: Help keep our rivers clean and healthy all year long – join in supporting CRC with your donation.

More Resources to Prepare for the Cleanup

Cleanup Training Videos

Think about the 4 S’s for a super smooth cleanup. Our friends at FirstLight tell you about site scouting, safety, and more. (6:40)

How to safely dispose of used needles. (1:00) Visit www.safeneedledisposal.org to search for needle drop-off locations.

What is the Source to Sea Cleanup? (3:20)

Clean Swell App

The free Cleanswell app makes it easy to keep track of the trash and recycling you gather with your team. Each group should designate a “Trash Tallier” who will use the app to submit one tally. Here’s how it works:

  • Download the free app from the Apple app store or Google Play. Make sure to allow location services while using app so it can detect that you’re collecting trash in the Connecticut River region and be counted toward CRC’s trash totals.
  • Create an account and verify your email address.
  • Tap ‘Start Collecting’ button and set your group name: “CRC – your group name/family name”. Please don’t delete CRC from the start of your group name and use the group name you registered with.
  • Add each item, tapping the appropriate icon or using the comments feature to add any items not included in the app, such as nip bottles or furniture. NOTE: You can hold down icons to add larger quantities.
  • When your cleanup is complete, click “Submit My Data” — the duration of cleanup time and total pounds will automatically be filled in.


If you have any questions or have limited computer access and need assistance, please contact Stacey Lennard, Cleanup Coordinator at cleanup@ctriver.org or 413-772-2020 x211.

Thanks for helping to keep our rivers clean!