What began as a group of volunteers organizing to remove trash from local rivers over two decades ago has become a hugely popular 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 this September 22nd – 23rd, 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 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 long-standing 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 over 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. Over 12K 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.” Jim Perry, President, 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. Take a photo or video when you are at the river, participating in the Source to Sea Cleanup, or enjoying time outside. Or make art inspired by river beauty or river pollution. Share on Instagram, 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 all contribute to cleaner rivers. Leaders are encouraged to scout the site out beforehand to determine if it’s suitable for their group.  

Connecticut River Conservancy would also like to thank the following sponsors for supporting this initiative – in some cases for many years! Our lead sponsors are Eversource, USA Waste & Recycling Inc., and All American Waste. With additional support from Athletic Brewing Company, Hypertherm HOPE Foundation, Ashuelot River Hydro, LLC, Charter Next Generation, Chroma Technology, Connecticut River Gateway Commission, Enterprise Holdings, Florence Savings Bank, Great River Hydro, LLC., Greenfield Savings Bank, GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., Inter-Fluve, Inc., Jamrog HVAC, PeoplesBank, Prentiss Smith & Co, Reynold’s Boats & Reynold’s Subaru, Savings Bank of Walpole, SLF, SumCo Eco-Contracting, SWCA Environmental Consultants, TOMRA of North America, Inc, Urban Lodge Brewing, Walmart-Northampton, and Wright Builders. 

For more information, visit CRC’s cleanup info page.

To sign up as a Volunteer or Group Leader, register here.

For any questions about getting involved, contact Stacey Lennard at cleanup@ctriver.org.