It's River Cleanup weekend across Lithuania and around the world

June 6, 2021
Volunteer with gloves and trash bag
Photo from River Cleanup Lithuania
By John in 

This Sunday, June 6th, is World River Cleanup Day, when volunteers will get outside and remove the trash from more than 700 stretches of dirty waterway around the world.

Every year, around 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the seas and oceans, and about 80 percent of it gets there via rivers. Since starting out with a 10 minute challenge to pick up trash in Belgium in 2017, River Cleanup has grown into an international initiative to help prevent that, they have actions throughout the year but the biggest is World River Cleanup, which falls on Sunday.

River Cleanup Lithuania are getting ahead of the game though, and are being active all weekend, after starting their actions on Saturday morning. Over the course of the weekend, they plan to clean up more than 80 areas along 33 rivers, with at least 1,500 volunteers taking part.

The third annual action in Lithuania started with volunteers descending on the Cedron stream in Vilnius. The paricipants pulled out tires, furniture, glass bottles, plastic containers, and other waste from the river and the shoreline.

Across the weekend, rivers and streams will be cleaned up not just in the capital, but across the country, with the biggest number of volunteers registering in Kaunas. It is not only individuals, but also corporate groups and schools are actively joining the initiative. Soldiers serving in Rukla also cleaned the Neris River with staff of the Dutch Embassy.

Lithuania is a bit of a star in the worldwide campaign, this year, just as last year, the country has the second highest number of registered cleanup sites. The campaign is taking place internationally, with a total of around 200 rivers being cleaned this weekend in almost 50 countries around the world, from China and Japan to Ghana and Cameroon. According to the organizers of the initiative, Lithuania, as last year, demonstrates exceptional activity, ranking second in terms of the number of registered treatment points.

Child taking part in cleanup action
Photo from River Cleanup Lithuania

“Every year, more and more people join the river cleaning initiative, and according to the number of registered participants, this year at least 1,500 people will participate in Lithuania alone. Globally, it is planned to clean up more than 700 contaminated areas and collect at least 1,000,000 kg of garbage this weekend, " says Remigijus Lapinskas, head of the Green Policy Institute representing the River Cleanup initiative in Lithuania.

The event organizers are keen to point out that it is important not only to collect waste, but also to dispose of it properly, so at the beginning of the event, representatives from "Žaliojo taško" explain to the participants how to sort the collected waste so that it can be recycled and reused.

"This year's river cleaning initiative is a little different. After cooperating with the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee and the Lithuanian Olympic Foundation, which provided part-funding from the LTeam START UP GOES GREEN program, we had the opportunity to expand the range of activities. , Nemunas, Dane, Kulpė and Nevėžis) and captures river banks with video cameras, " says Ieva Budraitė, River Cleanup Coordinator in Lithuania.

She explains that the collected photos will be placed on a publicly available map and everyone will be able to see the condition of the banks of these rivers - where the coast turned into a landfill, where an illegal fence was put up, and so on. The organizers hope this will help create more transparency and allow those wishing to contribute to river clean-up to identify the most polluted sites.

If you want to know more about what the initiative does then you might like to take a look at the our interview with Šarūnė from River Cleanup Lithuania, or look at the official website.

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