Waterway Cleanup FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there restrictions on who can join a cleanup?

No. Anyone can join the waterway cleanups, 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 Emily Dyett at edyett@bnwaterkeeper.org and he 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?

All of our in-water events require two ACA certified staff to be present. There will not be any in-water cleanup sites for the Spring Shoreline Sweep. We may host a special cleanup that is partially on the water.

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 a few things: (1) The site was not deemed to have enough trash on our scouting visits to warrant a need for it to be a cleanup site. (2) 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. (3) The site is full and registration is no longer open to the public.

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? 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. Volunteers are encouraged to bring 5 gallon buckets to reduce plastic bag use and make data collection easier on the  Clean Swell App. 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 and long pants. Flip flops and sandals are not allowed as they may not protect you from sharp objects. Lastly, please download our new data collection tool, the Clean Swell App before the day of the cleanup to support our advocacy efforts to reduce liter in our waterways.

I want to sign up my work/school/scout/club group. How do I do that?

You can register online for a monthly waterway cleanup here:  https://bnwaterkeeper.org/cleanup and for the Spring Shoreline Sweep here: https://www.bnwaterkeeper.org/spring-shoreline-sweep. You can either register your group at the site or share the link with your group to register. We suggest you have people register right away because spots are first come, first serve. We will not reserve sites for your group unless you have made prior arrangements with us.

Please contact Emily Dyett at edyett@bnwaterkeeper.org if you have issues registering your group.

I would like to register for a site but it is full. Why?

Each site has a certain capacity for volunteering efforts, so we limit the amount of people that can register for each site. We value our volunteer’s time and want to make sure you enjoy the event. Please try registering for another site or contact Emily Dyett at edyett@bnwaterkeeper.org to discuss further.

I am registered for a waterway cleanup. 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 entire email and inform any additional volunteers to register themselves. You will also receive a reminder email with your information a few days before the cleanup to help remind you what you need to do.

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 sign a waiver will not be allowed to participate in the waterway cleanup or use cleanup materials provided by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.

Ready for the waterway cleanup! What should I expect on the day of the event?

Please arrive to your site early so that everyone can get to cleaning! 15 minutes before the time indicated in your confirmation email is a sufficient amount of time. Your Site Captain will be greeting volunteers and provide you with instructions and cleanup materials (work gloves, bags, data collection details). Some sites may have uneven ground or steep slopes, so please make sure you only go to areas you are comfortable working in. With unpredictable weather, be sure to wear appropriate clothing for working outside. Boots or sneakers are required as flip flops and sandals cannot protect you from sharp objects. We also recommend wearing long pants and conducting a tick check after the cleanup. Once the site is cleaned, 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.