Clean Sweep: Volunteers remove 23 tons of trash from the Cuyahoga River Valley

Last Saturday, May 7, an army of 950 volunteers helped Canalway protect the Cuyahoga River by picking up tires, discarded water bottles, and other plastic trash from 20 cleanup locations around the valley during the 33rd annual RiverSweep

Volunteers collected 23 tons of garbage and 409 tires during this year’s sweep—picking up trash in the Flats, Ohio City, Tremont, and Slavic Village, as well as in Garfield Heights and Cuyahoga Heights. 

RiverSweep volunteers also removed litter from the river in kayaks and other boats with help from Illinois-based Living Lands and Waters, PHASTAR and the Port of Cleveland’s Flotsam and Jetsam

Started in 1989, the goal of RiverSweep is to protect the river and remove garbage from areas that could be future trails or parks in the Cuyahoga River corridor. Over the course of 33 years, more than 20,000 volunteers have helped recycle 25,166 illegally discarded tires and picked up almost 1.5 million pounds trash.

The cleanup effort has helped communities reduce public dumping and encouraged the creation of parks and trails. 

Year after year, RiverSweep volunteers pour their hearts into their communities,” said Canalway executive director Mera Cardenas in a statement. “As a result, we've been able to convert areas that were once abused dumping grounds to parks and trails. Canal Basin in the Flats, which is currently under construction to become a trailhead, and the Camp Cleveland pocket park in Tremont were both once illegal dump sites and are now parts of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail.

Cleaning public areas helps people see the potential in them,” Cardenas continued. “We’re proud to have played a part in returning greenspaces to the community and are constantly looking to support communities across the National Heritage Area.”