The Connecticut Cleanup

Read more about the CT Cleanup and the data we collected in 2023 in our new infographic!

New York Earth Day Coastal Cleanup
Sunday, April 21
Register Here

Connecticut Earth Day Coastal Cleanup
Sunday, April 21

*Event capacity has been reached for the New Haven Cleanup*

What is the Connecticut Cleanup?

The CT Cleanup is a state-wide effort hosted by Cleanup Captains, Connecticut residents passionate about keeping our parks, rivers, and beaches clean. Save the Sound supports each Cleanup Captain through event planning, training, and volunteer recruitment. We also provide all of the materials you need to cleanup a natural space of your choice.

But we deserve clean spaces every day. Recognizing this, we expanded the International Coastal Cleanup Day in Connecticut into a weekend, then a month, then a full year of organized cleanups. With the support from cleanup captains, volunteers, and sponsors, our CT Cleanup program is now nearly year-round. In the Spring, we host our corporate cleanups, reserved for sponsor companies and their employees as team-building events. In the fall, we host our community-based and public cleanups open to all Connecticut residents and visitors. There’s a cleanup for everyone and there’s always trash to pick up. We will soon be recruiting for 2024 cleanup volunteers from April – October in line with the International Coastal Cleanup season. Check back here for updates soon!

Save the Sound has hosted the cleanups in Connecticut as part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup for over 20 years. The global event, which occurs on International Coastal Cleanup Day in mid-September, has motivated over 11.5 million people around the world to pick up over 210 million pounds of trash from nearly 390,000 miles of shoreline.

How Does the Connecticut Cleanup Impact Our State?

At each cleanup event, we keep track of the trash we pick up. By using the Clean Swell app or tallying trash type and number on paper worksheets, our volunteers help us determine the most common and strangest types of trash we collect. The data shows changes in pollution trends over time and the larger impact volunteers are making across the globe.

We summarize six years of trash data in our first ever Connecticut Cleanup Report, and the numbers were shocking! The data indicate that cigarette butts, food wrappers, and small plastic pieces have been the top three most common trash types for the past six years. The data also show Styrofoam and balloons as persistent trash types on the ground and in the Sound. On average, Save the Sound volunteers collect over 100 pieces of Styrofoam trash at each cleanup and over 400 Mylar or rubber balloons each year.

What about cleanups in New York?

We care about the health of the entire Long Island Sound watershed, and that means cleaning up parks, rivers, and beaches in New York too! While Save the Sound is the host for Connecticut cleanups, the American Littoral Society is the host for those in New York. Visit the American Littoral Society’s cleanup webpage to learn more. Or join the New York State Beach Cleanup directly by filling out this form. Their full cleanup season occurs from August through December. There is truly no shortage of opportunities to help keep our region trash free.

How Does Our Trash Affect Wildlife?

Turtles, fish, birds, and other wildlife you love seeing throughout the Long Island Sound region can become entangled in fishing line, nets, and six-pack rings. They mistake trash like Styrofoam, plastics, and cigarette butts for food, which can poison their bodies with toxins and lead to starvation. All of these can kill wildlife, and all of it is avoidable.

How Does the Accumulation of Litter Affect Our Economy?

Not only does marine debris threaten the Sound’s fragile ecosystem, it weakens local economies by sapping dollars from the tourism and seafood industries. Long Island Sound contributes tens of billions of dollars to the regional economy each year, but toxic seafood, polluted rivers, and trash-covered beaches threaten our economy as well as the wildlife that calls our region home.

What Can You Do to Help?

That’s why Save the Sound works to stop litter at its source by organizing the Connecticut Cleanup each year to keep trash away from wildlife and out of the waters where you fish and swim. In the past six years alone, our volunteers have picked up over half a million pieces of trash from Connecticut’s beaches, parks, and rivers, protecting countless creatures and communities. Join the cleanup to help us continue this effort and stop trash in its tracks.

You can be a part of the effort by becoming a Cleanup Captain* to host your own cleanup between August and October. Check out the Cleanup Captain Manual to see what all is involved!

*We are no longer accepting new Cleanup Captains for the 2023 season. Check back with us to be a Cleanup Captain in 2024.

Just want to volunteer? Sign up for 2024 cleanups will be released soon! Check back here in May.

Do you want to sponsor the CT Cleanup program?

In addition to the large public cleanup effort, Save the Sound partners with corporations to make an impact on a larger scale. We ask corporate partners to support our cleanup program with financial contributions or in-kind gifts of essential supplies. In return, we highlight you as heroes in the fight against pollution in our digital communications and cleanup swag!

To coordinate a company cleanup for your organization or make a supportive contribution please e-mail our Cleanup Coordinator, Annalisa Paltauf, at

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Tuesday, May 21, in Windsor, CT
Celebrate World Fish Migration Day! Join us for a river walk, networking, the premiere screening of “Reconnected: Restoring the Rivers of Long Island Sound,” and a panel discussion with experts and advocates.

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