New Year’s resolution-makers may need to be a bit more creative this year with considerations around social distancing, and Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful has some great options for those who want their resolutions to make a difference this year.
One of KTNRB’s new programs, #Pledge4Rivers, can be done without ever leaving the house. Other initiatives offer adoptions of river miles or storm drains in which volunteers can have supplies shipped to them for free to clean our waterways on their own. Plus, there’s always the option of socially-distanced river cleanups that KTNRB has made safe with a thorough COVID-19 policy.
“Just because our world has been changed by this pandemic, doesn’t mean we can’t find creative ways to keep helping our world,” said Kathleen Gibi, KTNRB Executive Director. “We hope these initiatives designed to protect our waterways will inspire many New Year’s resolutions in the Tennessee Valley this year.”
Gibi said that KTNRB has a resolution of its own for 2021. They plan on reaching 100,000 lbs. of trash removed, beating their total of 61,499 lbs. reached in 2020 with the help of 343 volunteers. Resolution makers can help with that goal, and here are some of the ways how:
KTNRB has launched a new campaign that empowers people to stop the litter problem before it even reaches our waterways, all without ever leaving the house. With #Pledge4Rivers, pledgers can visit www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org/pledge4rivers to commit to eliminating one plastic or Styrofoam throwaway item from their daily habits for one year.
KTNRB staff will then follow up with pledgers to offer tips on avoiding single-use items and even provide one-on-one solutions.
With 38 pledges in the new campaign made thus far, the totals are already adding up:
Single-Use Item # Pledges Items Saved/Year
Plastic Bottles 14 2,338 plastic bottles saved / year
Styrofoam Cups 13 1,066 Styrofoam cups saved / year
Plastic Straws 7 4,088 plastic straws saved / year
Plastic Bags 3 4,500 plastic bags saved / year
11,992 single-use items pledged so far to be saved in 2021.
Pledges can be made at www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org/pledge4rivers.
ADOPT A RIVER MILE
If you want to get outside, a great socially-distanced option to support the Tennessee River at your own pace is the Adopt a River Mile program. This can be a river mile on the Tennessee River or one of its tributaries.
Individuals or groups can pledge to adopt a river mile by hosting two cleanups a year. In return, participants will receive cleaning supplies, stainless steel water bottles, t-shirts, and a sign provided by Living Lands & Waters with the individual or company name listed, proclaiming the adoption.
To register for the Adopt a River Mile program, visit www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org/adopt.
ADOPT A STORM DRAIN
KTNRB’s Adopt a Storm Drain program was launched last year. It’s a great way to do small, regular cleanups in segments of 30 minutes or less while still making a big impact.
The program is completely free and participants will receive cleaning supplies, t-shirts, water bottles, and a marker for the storm drain declaring their good deed (with the municipality’s permission). Through their pledge, participants commit to cleaning the storm drain on a monthly basis.
It’s estimated that 80% of the litter in our waterways is originally littered on land, and rain waters like what the Tennessee Valley has been getting in recent years will wash that litter from local streets into nearby storm drains. The storm water (and everything it carries) is then redirected into our creeks and rivers.
To adopt a storm drain, please visit www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org/stormdrain.
ORGANIZED RIVER CLEANUPS
Throughout the year, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful hosts organized river cleanups in which volunteers are taken out on KTNRB’s 25-foot aluminum boat to do shoreline cleanups. Since the pandemic hit in 2020, those cleanups have only been held under KTNRB’s thorough COVID-19 policy, which may be viewed here: www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org/covid
There are also eight KTNRB cleanups hosted each year in partnership with the national nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters, who bring additional boats to pull out even more litter.
This is a great way to make a difference while practicing social distance guidelines and getting to share comradery with friends and new faces alike.
KTNRB’s organized cleanup calendar is already filling up. Here are the scheduled cleanups:
Saturday, January 9 – Humphreys County, TN
Saturday, March 20 – Kingston, TN
Sunday, March 21 – Knoxville, TN
Friday, April 9 – Pickwick Lake, MS
Saturday, April 10 – The Shoals, AL
To register, visit www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org/upcomingcleanups.