Earth Day Cleanup

New 2020 Event Date - Saturday, October 3
Earth Day Cleanup
New 2020 Event Date - Saturday, October 3
Stay tuned for news about a virtual Earth Week in April!

The Anacostia Watershed Society's Earth Day Cleanup is AWS's largest annual volunteer event. Typically, on the Saturday following Earth Day nearly 2,000 volunteers come out to 30 different sites around the watershed to pick-up trash, serve their communities, and enjoy the Anacostia River. With current news about COVID-19 and our commitment to follow CDC guidelines, the 2020 event will be held on Saturday, October 3, and volunteer registration will open August 1, 2020.

But we are still planning to do a Virtual Earth Week in April! Stay tuned for more news.

This event is a success thanks to all of our amazing community partners and leaders. Most of our sites are lead by volunteer leaders who have been organizing clean-ups in their communities for years, and we are always seeking more leaders! If you are interested in nominating a site in your community for Earth Day, or if you are interested in becoming a site leader, please email AWS at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We provide each of these community leaders with training and supply them with the tools to lead a fantastic clean-up. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What precautions are being taken regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

With reported cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the D.C. region and the virus being declared a public health emergency, the Anacostia Watershed Society is taking precautionary measures to protect our staff and volunteers, while continuing with our volunteer events and monitoring the situation closely. We ask that you help stop the spread.

  • Practice good hygiene before, during, and after the event.
    • Wash your hands often; bring your own personal hand sanitizer. We will have a limited supply available at each site.
      • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol.
      • Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
    • Avoid personal contact with others. (hand shaking, hugs, etc.)
  • Please do not attend the cleanup:
    • If you are sick.
      • We will have many other great events you can attend.
      • Please stay home and do not come to an event if you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness or until you are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).
      • If you appear to be sick upon arrival to the event or become sick during the event, you will be asked to leave.
    • If you have traveled or live with someone who has traveled through/to the countries on the restricted travel CDC list.
      • Please wait a period of 14 days following your/the individual’s return to the United States before attending the event.
    • If you have been exposed to COVID-19 domestically, at home, internationally, or anywhere...

What is the Anacostia Watershed Society Earth Day Cleanup?

The Anacostia Watershed Society’s Earth Day Cleanup is a DC-area tradition where thousands of volunteers cleanup sites all along the Anacostia River and its tributary streams throughout the watershed in DC, Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. After the cleanup, all volunteers are invited to come to local eateries and coffee shops who have generously offered a discount to those in their Earth Day shirts, and where the Anacostia Watershed Society thanks and celebrates their hard work and the progress of the Anacostia River’s restoration.

How do I register to be a volunteer at a site?

Registration opens on March 2. When it does, you can choose a site from the map on the main page, register for it, then come to that location on Earth Day and make a difference for the Anacostia River! The rest of this FAQ has more details.

Do you need to register to be a volunteer?

Yes! One of the ways we thank you for volunteering at the AWS Earth Day Cleanup is to give you a free t-shirt. We also need to plan for bags, gloves, and other supplies… plus big things like dumpsters and municipal trash support! In addition, when you register online you fill out the online waiver, which means all you have to do is check-in then get to volunteering when you come on Earth Day.

How do I know if my registration went through?

All registrants receive a confirmation email that comes from "AWS Earth Day." Please check your spam folder if you did not see it in your inbox.

What’s all this about waivers?

Volunteers at all AWS events are required to fill out our waiver to participate. Individual Registrants can sign the online waiver as part of their registration process. A printable pdf of the waiver can be found by clicking here, and group registrants will be instructed to fill it out before arriving. Completing the waiver can take a bit of time, so in order to get you right to cleaning on April 25h, we strongly encourage volunteers using the paper waiver to fill it out prior to the event and bring it with them. Minors under the age of 18 must have a waiver signed by their parent or guardian.

Can I just show up at one of the sites and start cleaning?

Unfortunately, due to the planning involved with this event, all volunteers must pre-register or register with a group. We also won’t have those awesome shirts for you if you don’t register.

How can I get a t-shirt?

When you register to volunteer, you are asked for your t-shirt size! When you check in on the morning of Saturday, April 25th, your site leader will give you a shirt. You must register by April 1 to get an Earth Day shirt. We do our best, but cannot guarantee that we will have a shirt for you if you register after that time. Even with our careful planning, sometimes sites run out of shirts. 

Can children participate in the AWS Earth Day Cleanup?

Yes! Please pay attention to the site information, because some sites are a little too burdensome for little hands. Sites that are not recommended for children are clearly marked on the map of volunteer sites. We trust that parents will make informed decisions about what is best for themselves and their families.

If my child volunteers, can they receive Service Learning Hours?

Yes! If you bring the paperwork, AWS site leaders and staff at your site will sign off on your child’s hours.

Great! So I can just drop off my kids at a site and pick them up at noon.

Not exactly… Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult, with a signed waiver by their parent or guardian. School Groups, scout groups, and others must be accompanied by a responsible adult. If your child is with a group, please make sure he or she meets up with their group leader.

Speaking of groups, I would like to volunteer with one! Is there a way to register 10 people at once?

Yes! When you get to the registration page, just put in the number of registrations that are in your group. Make sure you have the name, address, and email for the members of your group.

So how does everyone in the group sign their waivers?

The Group Leader who registers the volunteers has the responsibility to distribute the AWS waiver. We strongly recommend that you print it, fill it out, and sign it prior to the event.

Is there a limit to the number of volunteers in a group?

If you have a group larger than 10, please contact us so we can help direct you to where you will be the most help! There are only a few sites that can handle 100 or more people, and we especially want people to be at the site that means the most to them or is in their neighborhood, If you have a group of 10 or more, please contact Emily Castelli at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can coordinate with you directly about your group’s volunteer needs.

My corporate group wants to help! How do we sign up?

Corporate groups are encouraged to contact Emily Conrad at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 301-699-6204 x111 for more information about volunteering, and the benefits of becoming an Earth Day sponsor!

Hey, the site I want to be at says that registration is closed! It’s the park right down the street from me! What’s up with that?

It is wonderful that so many volunteers participate in the AWS Earth Day Cleanup, and we plan to have as many people that each site needs to become cleaner. Sometimes these sites get full… but the sites that aren’t full still need you! We kindly ask that you pick your second choice site.

Oops! I accidentally registered for the wrong site! How do I change my registration?

If the site that you want still has spots available, just re-enter your registration for the new site. Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can delete the registration that you don’t want.

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