Volunteers Work to Make the Charles River Cleaner

In recognition of National Volunteer Week and Earth Month, over 3,500 people volunteered on Saturday, April 28 as part of the 19th Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup. In a collaboration led by Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), over 110 groups cooperated to pick up trash and debris and eradicate invasive species in an effort to beautify the Charles River and surrounding parklands.

Recognized for two consecutive years by American Rivers’ National River Cleanup® for “Most Volunteers Mobilized”, the Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup provides thousands of volunteers an opportunity to serve as parkland stewards at sites throughout the Charles River watershed.

“I loved learning that the Charles River is the cleanest urban river in the country in part because of the work we do,” said Zoe Rath a volunteer with Appalachian Mountain Club. Through their service, volunteers like Rath deepen their connection to the Charles River while increasing their commitment to protect it.

Volunteers joined thousands of people across Massachusetts who came together for Park Serve Day, MassParks’ annual statewide day of volunteer service. The Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup is a part of American Rivers’ National River Cleanup®, which to date, has removed over 25 million pounds of trash from America’s waterways.

During the cleanup volunteers removed litter including plastic bags, bottles, styrofoam, discarded electronics, and other items from parklands in the Charles River watershed. Following the Cleanup, volunteers celebrated their work with picnics at the Esplanade in Boston, Blue Heron Trail in Waltham and Stoddard Park in Holliston.

“The Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup is a wonderful event that engages volunteers from communities up and down the 80-mile long river,” said Kate Bowditch, Director of Stewardship at CRWA, “Charles River Watershed Association has been working to clean the Charles River since its founding in 1965. In that time the Charles River has gone from one of the dirtiest rivers in the country to the cleanest urban river in the United States today. We appreciate all the volunteers whose dedication promotes our mission to  restore the Charles River.


CRWA uses science, advocacy, law and urban design to protect and restore the Charles River and its watershed. CRWA uses its science-based understanding of the watershed to define effective, long-term solutions to the river’s problems, and to promote cutting-edge, sustainable water management practices. As a result of CRWA’s efforts over the last 50 years, the Charles River, once one of the most degraded rivers on the East Coast, is now considered the cleanest urban river in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A team of local organizations assist CRWA with the Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup event the Charles River Conservancy, the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, The Esplanade Association, Senator Will Brownsberger’s Office and the Waltham Land Trust.

Earth Day Charles River Cleanup Sponsors include:

Cleanup Champion: Sarepta Therapeutics

Cleanup Advocates: Pfizer, Kind, Massachusetts Service Alliance, Corporation for National & Community Service, Cabot and Whole Foods Market, Home Works Energy, Eversource

Cleanup Supporters: American Rivers, MIT, Boston University, Cadmus, CDM Smith, Charles River Canoe & Kayak, and Woodward & Curran, Wellesley Bank, Boston Marriott Newton Hotel, Chipotle, Power Crunch, Perfect Dental

Cleanup Friends: Auburndale Builders, Budget Dumpster, Charlesgate Yacht Club, Community Boating, The Discovery Museum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Newton Yacht Club, Inc., Spaulding, Stop & Shop and White Corporation, Wegmans, Boston Solar, River Street Family Dental

For more information about the Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup, please visit www.charlesriver.org/cleanup

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