OKC Beautiful, a Keep America Beautiful affiliate located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has joined forces with Riverport OKC to launch a new collaborative initiative focused on solving the problem of litter and debris along the Oklahoma River.

The initiative, called River Protectors, has two goals: remove the trash that is already coming downstream and create a cultural shift to eliminate trash at its source. The project involves cataloging the trash to define the scope and source of the litter. Using the Litterati app, volunteers have retrieved and cataloged over 40,000 pieces of trash over the past 12 weeks. The two most common forms of trash found in the river are single-use plastics, such as water and soda bottles, and Styrofoam cups, plates, and to-go containers.

“The Oklahoma River is an amazing recreational gem for Oklahoma City,” said Mike Knopp, Riversport OKC executive director. “Unfortunately, every time it rains, we are dealing with trash that gets washed down from upstream. If trash is thrown out a car window or dropped on the ground, it often ends up in a river. Every urban waterway deals with this issue, and we want to be part of the global movement to put an end to it.”

According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, more than 60% of littering is deliberate and about 55% of that occurs along rural and urban highways. When it comes to parks and recreational areas, pedestrians account for more than 76% of litter.

“The collective good of any community is based in collaborative problem solving,” said Brent Allen of Riverport OKC. “The work we are doing in partnership with OKC Beautiful is building a more sustainable city for future generations.”