American Rivers Launches National River Cleanup 2008

Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Washington, DC - Each and every year, an appalling amount of trash finds its way into our nation's rivers and streams. It's a fact that has communities and civic leaders all across the country teaming up with American Rivers to do something about it. As part of National River Cleanup 2008, more than 100,000 volunteers, in all 50 states, and the District of Columbia will stand up for healthy rivers, and the healthy communities they sustain, by pulling hundreds of tons of trash out of their local rivers. "Last year alone, more than 600 tons of trash was removed from our rivers by National River Cleanup Volunteers," said Rebecca Wodder, President of American Rivers. "That's roughly equal to the weight of eight Space Shuttles."

Tom's of Maine has generously agreed to be the presenting sponsor of National River Cleanup 2008.

Since its inception by America Outdoors in 1992, National River Cleanup has raised public awareness about the health of our nation's waterways and inspired people to take action for rivers. Over the years, more than 500,000 volunteers have participated in over 4,500 cleanups, covering more than 100,000 miles of waterways.

"With so many cleanups all across the country, odds are that there is one, right in your own backyard," added Wodder. "And if there isn't, there can be. Organizing a river cleanup is a tremendously rewarding experience and registering your cleanup only takes a few seconds on

Thanks to new tools on, registering a cleanup has never been easier. This American Rivers has increased and improved the support it gives to cleanup organizers including hosting individual cleanup event webpages for all registered cleanups, volunteer recruitment tools for organizers, a Cleanup Organizer's Handbook and the all important free trash bags. Prospective volunteers can quickly find the clean up nearest to them, sign up for the cleanup of their choice, and keep up to date with all the latest National River Cleanup news.

River cleanups are fun for all ages. Many environmental organizations, civic clubs, paddle-sports groups, federal and state agencies, and schools organize these events in their communities.

National River Cleanup 2007 Facts

  • Bags of trash filled: 100,980
  • Trash removed: 600 tons
  • Cleanup organizers: 528
  • Cleanup sites: 583
  • Volunteers: 95,109
  • River miles cleaned: 7,453

Notable items removed

  • Toilet seats, washing machines, motorcycle, outhouse, exercise bike, propane tank, baby pool, telephone pole, lawn mower, hot tub, circular saw and tractor.

Civic leaders in attendance

102 (including city council members, state representatives, mayors and even Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)

Media stories

  • More than 200 newspaper, radio and TV stories

Percent of organizers who plan to participate again

  • 99%


Type of Litter in Rivers:

  • Fast food waste (33%)
  • Paper (29%)
  • Aluminum (28%)
  • Glass (6%)
  • Plastic (2%)
  • Other (2%)
How Long Litter Lasts: Orange peel (2-5 weeks); Paper bag (1 month); Cigarette butt (up to 5 years); Leather shoe (45 years); Plastic bottle (430 years); Aluminum can (200-500 years); Disposable diaper (550 years); Glass bottle (Approx. 1 million years); Styrofoam container (1 million years).


American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable community assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and online supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.
David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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