200 Missouri River Relief volunteers to clean up trash on Saturday

“A lot of the trash that you see in the Missouri River isn’t from people driving up to it and throwing it in.”
Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - On Saturday, 200 people will collect trash as Missouri River Relief hosts a large-scale, community and equipment-based trash cleanup near Riverfront Park in Kansas City.

On Friday, crews scouted locations along the river that have large amounts of trash and debris.

“We are scouting about a 12-mile stretch of river,” said Missouri River Relief Operations Director Kevin Tosie. “We look at the flow of the river to judge where trash will end up getting caught.”

Crews walked along the banks and selected approximately 20 sites where volunteers will work to remove the trash.

Every volunteer spot is filled for Saturday’s event. They will be ferried by MMR boat captains and Missouri Department of Conservation agents to the pre-scouted locations.

“The biggest thing, of course, is single-use plastic,” Tosie said. “A lot of Styrofoam cups. We find things like refrigerators, a lot of tires. Every item that you can think of.”

At each stop, crews take note of any hazards and select spots that are safe for younger volunteers. If a spot is littered with glass or sharp metal, they note that adult volunteers should be sent to those locations.

“A lot of the trash that you see in the Missouri River isn’t from people driving up to it and throwing it in,” Tosie said. “It’s the trash that you see on the sidewalks and on the sides of the roads that get into the stormwater system, into a smaller creek and, eventually, into the Missouri River.”

During a typical Missouri River Relief cleanup, they remove between 4 to 6 tons of trash.

“This is a community of people that want to immediately help our waterways and make them safe for wildlife,” Missouri River Relief crew member Laura Semken said. “Our rivers are everything. Rivers are life. Our rivers are like veins that lead to the ocean.”

A 40-yard dumpster is ready to remove trash that is pulled from the river Saturday.

“Keeping this clean up here means it’s a healthier river for those who live downstream, as well,” Tosie said.

Missouri River Relief invites volunteers to join cleanup efforts four times a year. The cleanup is sponsored by Evergy Green Team, Spire, KC Water, GFL Environmental, and the Missouri Department of Conservation.