HollNearly a quarter century after it began, the massive cleanup effort along the banks of the Ohio River and its tributaries still draws tens of thousands of volunteers. They'll be combing more than 3,000 miles of shoreline, picking up trash and debris for River Sweep on June 15.
Jeanne Ison with the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, the sponsoring organization for River Sweep, said the event has been very effective since its inception.
"When we started the program in '89 the shorelines were literally covered with various trash and debris, anything from appliances to televisions to porcelain toilets," said Ison. "It was literally a dumping ground for people who didn't want to dispose of their trash properly."
The focus on recycling has also helped. In the early years of River Sweep, Ison said the volunteers picked up about 12,000 to 14,000 tons of garbage and other debris each year from Pennsylvania to Illinois. Now that number is down slightly.
"Last year alone, one of the states recycled more than 4,000 tires, so all those tires aren't going to be coming down the Ohio," said Ison.
River Sweep is recognized as the largest environmental event of its kind in the country. It also received a national Take Pride in America Award in recognition for cleaning up the Ohio River Valley.
If you'd like to volunteer, you can call 1-800-359-3977 or click here for more information.