Almost 12,500 pounds of trash were removed from streams, lakes, canals, and green spaces in more than a dozen sites at The Watershed Institute’s 16th Annual Stream Cleanups, which took place on April 9, 23 & 24.
Additional cleanups are in the offing for Saturday, April 30, in Rocky Hill and on May 21 in Trenton.
The Watershed’s stream cleanups are a volunteer opportunity for youth and adults alike, helping to improve the habitat in the extended Earth Week season. These events spanned the Stonybrook-Millstone and Delaware River watersheds, ranging from Franklin to Lawrence and from Montgomery to Ewing.
Along with extracting, weighing, and separating out recyclables at 14 different locations, the record 910 volunteers pulled out unusual items such as a scooter, tractor tire, auto fender, and lawn furniture. They also found sports items, such as bicycles, a basketball hoop stand, a football and a radio flyer wagon.
Commonly found items included single-use plastic bags, which will be banned in the state on May 4, and water bottles, food wrappers and small plastic items. These plastics degrade into small particles that are harmful to aquatic life.
“We appreciate our volunteers who each year remove debris that taint our waterways, threaten riparian life, and harm our environment,” said Jim Waltman, the Watershed’s executive director. “We thank our volunteers, municipal partners, environmental commissions, youth, scouts and others who return faithfully each year.”
Each participant received a Stream Cleanup t-shirt as a memento for improving the health of our waterways, protecting our environment and beautifying our communities.
“We are grateful for the energy and dedication of the people who showed up and volunteered in our communities,” said Olivia Spildooren, River-Friendly Coordinator, who organized many of these events with the local towns and cities.