Announcing the 2015 National River Cleanup Photo Contest!

Enter the 2015 National River Cleanup Photo Contest today! We are now accepting up to 10 entries per person from your 2015 cleanup events. See our website for all the rules and our submission form.

Bryan Hofmann

While it is sad to see the river cleanup season come to an end, we now get to look back and think about our successes these past few months. Thousands of cleanups engaged tens of thousands of volunteers and removed millions of pounds of waste from our favorite rivers and streams.

One of the best ways to demonstrate our accomplishments is through photos. While I always eagerly await organizer’s data results, what I really pore over are the pictures that often accompany the trash and volunteer tallies. Before and after shots of recently cleaned riverbanks or pictures of muddy volunteers hauling away bags of trash always remind me of the importance of our river cleanups.

With the end of the cleanup season comes a lull in my nearly continuous supply of new river cleanup photos from all over the United States. Luckily, the end of the cleanup season also marks the start of the annual National River Cleanup® Photo Contest!

We are accepting submissions from now until December 31 of your 2015 cleanup photos at Look for the Photo Contest link, read over all the rules, and upload up to 10 of your very best photos. After December 31, we will stop accepting submissions, narrow down the photos to our top ten, and ask the public to vote on which photo they think best represents the spirit of our National River Cleanup Program.

So, what makes a strong cleanup photo? While we enjoy photos of dumpsters full of trash bags, stacks of tires, and various recyclable materials sorted out into their respective piles, what we really love to see are the hardworking people who helped make the river cleanup possible.

And if that wasn’t enough guidance, here is a recipe for a winning National River Cleanup photo contest entry:

  • At least 1 smiling volunteer (mud optional)
  • Trash – either being picked up or held by said smiling volunteer(s)
  • The river!
  • Incorporation of the words “National River Cleanup” and/or “American Rivers” – in the form of a labeled trash bag, banner, etc. (bonus points for creativity!)

To see a photo that followed this recipe to the T, check out last year’s Photo Contest winner. I hope this inspires you to rummage through your 2015 photo collection, pick out your favorites, and enter them in the Contest.  In addition, for the next year, the winning photo will be the face of National River Cleanup’s 25th Anniversary in 2016!  We’ll use it on the website, in publications and everywhere else we can think of.

If you’re still not motivated, for every photo you submit, your name will be entered automatically in the American Rivers Klean Kanteen® Water Bottle Giveaway! American Rivers is giving away ten Klean Kanteen® water bottles between December 31, 2015 and February 15, 2016. ALTERNATE METHOD OF ENTRY: Send an email to for giveaway with the subject “American Rivers Klean Kanteen® Water Bottle Giveaway”. Limit one entry per email address.

We look forward to seeing all your great photos and learning the stories behind your cleanup. Good luck!

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