Volunteers needed to help clean Red River before snowfall

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — Volunteers are needed to help clean up trash in and around the Red River before snowfall.

The river may look fairly clean but look a little harder in some parts of Fargo-Moorhead and you can see a different story.

“It’s interesting because you can tell where the last group left off,” said Shannon Thompson on Tuesday.

It’s her first time volunteering to pick up garbage with River Keepers, an organization dedicated to sustaining the Red River.

“The first thing when I walked down; you can tell, well, there’s where they quit because immediately, you start finding the plastic again and it’s just so sad,” Thompson explained.

Thompson works for Clay County’s solid waste department and knows the impact trash has on the environment.

“Litter happens and plastic bags are one of the worst offenders that we have. It’s a problem,” Thompson continued.

It’s especially a problem since the Red River is a source for our drinking water.

Benjamin Laber is another first-time volunteer. He gathered a few of his colleagues from the North Dakota Air National Guard to help clean up Snakey Creek in Moorhead, which flows into the Red River.

“I spent a lot of time outside growing up, you know, playing by the river and in the parks and appreciating the local parks and recreational areas, so I figured it was a good way to give back,” Laber said.

River Keepers is in need of more volunteers like Thompson and Laber, especially before snow hits the ground.

“We do most of our cleanups in spring, summer and fall,” explained River Keepers Executive Director Christine Holland.

Although picking up garbage that has already piled up is important, Thompson and Holland say it’s far better to ditch plastic altogether and go for reusable options instead.

“Most of what we find is plastic bags and food and beverage containers, so we really try to teach people about using reusable cloth bags when they’re shopping instead of the plastic bags which can fly around, especially with the wind we have today,” Holland said.

According to River Keepers, plastic bags have environmental consequences that harm our drinking water, wildlife, and recreational use of the river and nearby trails. “For example, birds and fish ingest plastic pieces thinking they are food and then starve as the plastic clogs their systems.”

Thompson says if it’s necessary to use plastic bags, they can be recycled by bringing them back to grocery stores or big box stores. It’s important to not put them in recycling bins as they can jam up the sorting machines, which creates a danger for workers who have to manually pull them out.

If you do not want to buy cloth bags from a store, they can be made out of old t-shirts. Here’s a link to information on River Keepers “T-shirt to Tote” project: https://bit.ly/3vykgx2.

To sign up to volunteer with River Keepers, click here.

The organization will host its 11th annual fundraiser Thursday. To find out how to help River Keepers continue its mission, click here.

Categories: Community, Local News, Minnesota News, North Dakota News