Wake County Big Sweep

Wake County Big Sweep is a citizen volunteer effort to make our environment litter-free. Wake County focuses on watersheds, coordinating cleanups of streams, lakes and wetlands.  Events are planned throughout spring and fall each year in partnership with city and county parks, civic organizations, youth groups, schools, churches, and businesses. 

Wake County Big Sweep is affiliated with the international Ocean Conservancy that began the International Coastal Cleanup to remove litter from beaches and coastal shorelines around the world.  Our volunteers intercept litter before it travels downstream via the Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers, to the NC coast, and out to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Canceled: Spring 2021 Big Sweep

To comply with Wake County government's COVID-19 response, Wake County Big Sweep for spring 2021 has been canceled. The safety of our Big Sweep Zone Captains and volunteers is always top priority! Depending on the status of COVID-19, we hope to be back sweepin' our creeks, lakes, wetlands and parks clean in fall 2021.

Until our large-scale cleanups return, volunteers are encouraged to use the Ocean Conservancy's Clean Swell app with litter cleanups at home. For more information about this opportunity, read the section below. 

Litter? There's an App for That!

Doing a litter cleanup at home? Check out the Ocean Conservancy's FREE Clean Swell app that anyone can use anywhere, anytime! When creating your account, start your Group Name with "Wake-_" and finish with a unique name like "Wake-Troop345" or "Wake-SmartElem4th." Avoid using "FallsLake" or "NeuseRiver," as that may confuse your data with that of many other groups. The app is easy to use, plus it tracks EVERY cleanup and EVERY piece of litter you enter. As an extra incentive, virtual badges are awarded for reaching collection milestones! How many will you earn? Have fun volunteers and follow these Steps for Safety!

Why is Big Sweep important?

Group picture of Big Sweep volunteers

Big Sweep plays an important role in watershed protection by keeping Wake County’s waterways litter-free, beautiful, ecologically viable, and safe for drinking or other designated water uses. Big Sweep volunteers are often the first ones who bring illicit discharges and other potential pollutants to their local government’s attention.  Volunteers pull out the garbage that can harm the water you drink, the places you fish, the wildlife you love, and the beautiful waterways you canoe, sail, and swim in! 

Wake County Big Sweep Results From 2003-2019

When is Big Sweep?

In Wake County, we hold numerous Big Sweep cleanups in Spring (March & April) and Fall (September & October) on multiple dates to broaden participation and lend flexibility to busy schedules.  Visit this web site often to see our latest schedule!  Cleanups are listed by date chronologically, then by town and watershed alphabetically. 

Where can I volunteer in Wake County?

Picture of volunteers with litter collection

Big Sweep welcomes willing and enthusiastic volunteers! Wake County has numerous cleanups in several municipalities thanks to dynamo Zone Captains who lead these events. Select a site on our spring or fall schedule. To volunteer, contact the site's Zone Captain or park office to preregister the volunteers in your party. This is a good time to make sure the site is appropriate for different age groups and different levels of physical ability. Volunteers must complete the Volunteer Liability Waiver and return it to the Zone Captain on the day of the cleanup.  Note: Some sites may require volunteers to sign two waivers.  Thank you for signing these important forms! 

How can I become a Zone Captain?

Do you have a littered area in Wake County in mind?  Are you willing to lead volunteers in a safe cleanup?  New Zone Captains are always welcome and needed!  If interested, contact Wake Soil & Water Conservation District’s Sheila Jones at 919-250-1065 or [email protected] for details and assistance.

Wake County Big Sweep Celebrates 30 Years!

Picture of someone kayaking down the river

Wake County Big Sweep celebrated its 30th Anniversary in Fall 2019, marking three decades of removing litter as part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC.) The program is made possible by a group of dedicated Zone Captains that lead cleanups to remove unhealthy and unsightly litter from freshwater streams, lakes and wetlands before the litter enters the Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers and ultimately, the Atlantic Ocean. 

Wake County Board of Commissioners Proclamation

Cause for Applause!

For more information

Wake County Big Sweep is a program of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District.  If you have further questions or need assistance, contact Wake County Big Sweep Coordinator, Sheila Jones.