River Cleanup to Bring 16 Countries Together to Clean 10 Rivers Across Europe


The international initiative invites citizens and organizations to clean ten rivers in Europe to draw attention to water pollution

An international collective “River Cleanup” is organizing a series of global events on the World Cleanup Day, 21st of September. Citizens and organizations from 16 countries will gather to clean 10 major rivers in Europe. The organizers aim to attract 20,000 participants to bring awareness of global environmental problems, especially water pollution.

In one day, 350 clean-ups will take place in almost 200 cities along 10 rivers in Europe: Volga, Scheldt, Rhine, Drin, Neris, Neman, Danube, Meuse, Pregolya, and Belaya, which connect the participating 16 countries.

The River Cleanup organization encourages schools, associations and companies to launch their cleanups to reach a maximum number of participants.

As the motto “Clean locally, celebrate globally” suggests, the organizers are inviting participants to the closing events in hub cities to celebrate their participation and contribution to the environmental wellbeing with food and drinks.

The initiative started in 2018, when Thomas de Groote, together with two of his friends, organized the first cleanup with an ambition to include three countries and nine cities along the Rhine.

“Over eight billion kilograms of waste is dumped uncontrolled in our oceans, of which 80% is coming from rivers. Every year. For us, this was the reason to take action – to start River Cleanup,” says Thomas de Groote, the founder.

The event resulted in cleaning the Rhine from its source all the way to where it meets the Nord Sea with more than 10.000 participants, across 59 cities in five countries. In one day, volunteers collected over 100.000 kg of trash that was on its way to the Nord Sea.

“With over 70.000 views on our Facebook page and more than 90 articles in the local, regional, and national press, we were able to raise public awareness of the problem. This unexpected success encouraged us to increase the scale of the project further,” states Thomas de Groote.

This year, eleven more countries joined the project for the first time.

“I have been interested in environmental problems, especially plastic waste, for some time now. It really touched me that, according to scientists, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050, but I couldn’t do much about it alone. River Cleanup project brings people like me from all over Europe together, allowing them to raise awareness and make a change,” says River Cleanup organizer in Lithuania Justina Anglickytė.

The 16 participating countries are Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Slovakia, Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine, Kosovo, Albania, and Greece.

Those interested to join the River Cleanup can register online and find more information about the initiative here.