Wake County Big Sweep

Group of volunteers


big sweep logo

Wake County Big Sweep is a citizen volunteer effort to protect our watersheds, water quality, and make our environment litter-free. For over 30 years, Big Sweep has coordinated cleanups in Wake County focused on watersheds, streams, lakes, and wetlands that ultimately lead to the ocean. We rely on our lead volunteers, Zone Captains, who conduct cleanups to dispose of trash and recycling across various locations in Wake County. All supplies and logistics are provided for events. Big Sweep is a program of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District.

We work with dedicated citizens, city and county parks, civic organizations, youth groups, schools, churches, and businesses to conduct numerous cleanups per season. Most events are in spring (March & April) and fall (September & October) - so check back often! 

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, 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, fish, and swim in!

Wake County Big Sweep Results From 2003–2019

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 from our events page. Make sure to read the site's description to make sure it is appropriate for your needs. Then, to volunteer, pre-register for the event. Volunteers must complete the Volunteer Liability Waiver.

Note: Some sites may require volunteers to sign two waivers. Thank you for signing these important forms!

Count your individual cleanups with CleanSwell!

Doing a litter cleanup at home? Check out our partner's, Ocean Conservancy, FREE Clean Swell app that anyone can use anywhere, anytime! Your data will be tallied into the International Coastal Cleanup numbers. 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! Have fun and follow these Steps for Safety!

Friends of Wake Soil and Water District

The Friends of the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District is a volunteer non-profit group of local citizens who support and champion the work of the District. Big Sweep programming, along with other projects and programs in Wake Soil and Water, is aided by funds from donations through the Friends.

Please visit their website for more information!

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 County Big Sweep Coordinator, Alex Heinemann at 919-605-2207 or Alexandra.Heinemann@wakegov.com for details and assistance.