Shoreline Sweep Frequently Asked Questions

Are there restrictions on who can join the Spring Shoreline Sweep?
No.  Anyone can join the Sweep, but those under 18-years-old will need to be supervised by a parent or guardian.  For groups with those under 18-years-old, we prefer a 5:1 student volunteer to chaperon ratio.  Some sites may not be safe for younger children, so please use caution when choosing your site.  Those with physical disabilities, injuries, or are recovering from surgery are also advised to use caution when choosing a cleanup site.  If you are unsure of which site to choose, please contact Wendy Paterson at and we will be happy to assist you in choosing the right site for you.

Can I do an in-water cleanup via kayak, canoe, or other water craft?
No.  Our insurance and safety standards will not allow for in-water cleanups at the Spring Shoreline Sweep.  All of our in-water events require two ACA certified staff to be present and that is something we cannot offer on the day of the Spring Shoreline Sweep.  Also, water temperatures are low in April and the weather is very unpredictable, so we highly recommend no in-water cleanups during this time for safety reasons.

I would like to cleanup at a site, but I don’t see it on the registration list.  Why is that?
It could be one of four things: (1) Each site has a certain capacity for volunteering efforts, so we limit the amount of people that can register for each site.  Once a site reaches that limit, we take it off the registration list so volunteers can help us at other needed sites.  (2) The site was not deemed to have enough trash on our scouting visits to warrant a need for it to be a cleanup site.  (3) We do not normally have a cleanup site there and are unaware of a need to clean it up. ALERT us to a site in need.  (4) The site is outside our watershed and we are unable to provide resources to it.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about specific sites and we will be happy to go over details.  If you find a site that needs cleaning up and do not see it on the list, please let us know!  We want to maximize our efforts and keep as much trash out of our waterways and shorelines as possible.

What is provided to volunteers for the sweep?  Should I bring anything myself?
All volunteers are provided with work gloves, trash bags, and recycling bags.  The Site Captain at each site is also equipped with containers for sharp objects, first aid kit, and hand sanitizer for volunteers to use as needed.  If you would like to bring pickers, shovels, brooms, nets, or other items to help pick up trash, you are welcome to do so.  Also, be sure to wear appropriate clothing for the weather and wear either boots or sneakers.  Flip slops and sandals are not allowed as they may not protect you from sharp objects.

I want to sign up my work/school/scout/club group.  How do I do that?
You can register online at  Find the site you would like to cleanup at and fill in your information as we require information of at least one person in your group for contact purposes.  Towards the bottom of the registration form, you can select how many people you plan on attending with you.  Please give us a good estimate of how many you think will be in your group.  If your group number changes by more than 5, please contact Wendy Paterson at to let us know.

I am unable to register the full amount of people in my group.  Why?
Each site has a certain capacity for volunteering efforts, so we limit the amount of people that can register for each site.  Your group number may be larger than the number left to register.  Please try registering for another site or contact Wendy Paterson at to discuss further.

I am registered for the Spring Shoreline Sweep.  What should I do next?
Once you are registered, you will receive an email that gives you the information that you’ll need.  Please read the email and be sure to have all other volunteers you registered fill out a waiver with their information and signature and bring a printed copy with you to the your site to hand in to your Site Captain.  The individual who registered the group will have already filled out an electronic waiver. You will also receive a reminder email with your information a few days before the Sweep to help you remind you what you need to do.  Please fill out the waiver HERE.

Do I really need to sign a waiver?
Yes.  This is required for our insurance purposes.  Each volunteer must have a waiver filled out completely and signed by themselves or by a parent/guardian if the volunteer is under 18-years-old.  Any volunteer that refuses to provide a waiver will not be allowed to participate in the Sweep or use cleanup materials provided by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.

I am ready for the Spring Shoreline Sweep.  What should I expect on the day of the event?
Please arrive to your site early so that everyone can get to cleaning at 10am.  15 minutes before 10am is a sufficient amount of time.  Your Site Captain will greet you and provide you with instructions and cleanup materials (work gloves, bags).  Some sites may have uneven group or steep slopes, so please make sure you only go to areas you are comfortable working in.  With unpredicatable weather, be sure to wear appropriate clothing for work outside.  Boots or sneakers are required as flip flops and sandals cannot protect you from sharp objects.  Once the site is cleaned, or at 11:45am, you will return to your meeting place and the Site Captain will take your gloves, bags, and answer any other questions or concerns you may have.

I would like to attend the Volunteer Appreciation Party after the Sweep.  How do I do that?
The 2018 Volunteer Appreciation Party is TBD. There is no party for the Monthly Waterway Cleanups.

If you have any further questions, please contact Wendy Paterson at and we will answer your questions as soon as possible.