ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Volunteers took to the Mississippi River in St. Paul on Wednesday to pick up trash from the shore.
The Mississippi Riverboat Cleanup team has been out for the past 25 years to tackle what has become a pretty big problem.
“It’s a fun way to get outside and make a difference,” said volunteer Michael Wurth. “You get to hang out in the woods with friends and colleagues who enjoy doing this, and you also get things done in our backyard.”
About 100 of the volunteers assisted the Conservation Corps with seven boats, hauling both the people and garbage.
In total, more than 40,000 pounds of trash has been removed from the area since Paul Nordell organized the cleanup effort 25 years ago.
“We wouldn’t have a resource like this if it wasn’t for the volunteers,” Nordell said. “I tell people, if they see a lot of clean shoreline like this, it’s because a lot of people put a lot of energy into it already. If they hadn’t, this place would be full of trash.”
Nordell says about 70 percent of the trash gets recycled.
While plastic and Styrofoam seemed to dominate the debris on Wednesday, the volunteers did collect some unique finds. They included a partially submerged wooden boat and about 40 tires.
After last years’ cleanup, the Mississippi Riverboat Cleanup team collected about 12,000 pounds of garbage. This year, the group estimates their haul was just slightly less.