Wake County Big Sweep

Big Sweep logo
Clean communities. Clean water. Big Change

Since 2006:

Pounds of Litter Removed: 476,261
Volunteers: 20,334
Volunteer Hours: 50,801
Of that Litter, Pounds Recycled: 149,526
Number of Tires Recycled: 2,290


big sweep event

Wake County Big Sweep is a citizen volunteer effort to protect our watersheds, water quality, and make our environment litter-free. For over 30 years, Big Sweep has coordinated cleanups in Wake County focused on watersheds, streams, lakes, and wetlands that ultimately lead to the ocean. We rely on our lead volunteers, Zone Captains, who conduct cleanups to dispose of trash and recycling across various locations in Wake County. 

All supplies and logistics are provided for events. Big Sweep is a program of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District.

Why is Big Sweep important?

volunteers in stream

Big Sweep plays an important role in watershed protection by keeping Wake County’s waterways litter-free, ecologically viable, and safe for drinking or other designated water uses. Big Sweep volunteers are often the first ones who bring illicit discharges and other potential pollutants to their local government’s attention. Volunteers pull out the garbage that can harm the water you drink, the places you fish, the wildlife you love, and the beautiful waterways you canoe, fish, and swim in!

Where can I volunteer in Wake County?

Volunteer with shopping cart

Big Sweep welcomes willing and enthusiastic volunteers! We work with dedicated citizens, city and county parks, civic organizations, youth groups, schools, churches, and businesses to conduct numerous cleanups per season. Most events are in spring (March & April) and fall (September & October) - so check back often! Events happen on land and on the water throughout Wake County. If you know of a littered area that could use a sweep, contact alexandra.heinemann@wake.gov.

Count your individual cleanups with CleanSwell!

Doing a litter cleanup at home? Check out our partner's, Ocean Conservancy, FREE Clean Swell app that anyone can use anywhere, anytime! Your data will be tallied into the International Coastal Cleanup numbers. When creating your account, start your Group Name with "Wake-_" and finish with a unique name like "Wake-Troop345" or "Wake-SmartElem4th." Avoid using "FallsLake" or "NeuseRiver," as that may confuse your data with that of many other groups. The app is easy to use, plus it tracks EVERY cleanup and EVERY piece of litter you enter. As an extra incentive, virtual badges are awarded for reaching collection milestones! Have fun and follow these Steps for Safety!

Friends of Wake Soil and Water District

The Friends of the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District is a volunteer non-profit group of local citizens who support and champion the work of the District. Big Sweep programming, along with other projects and programs in Wake Soil and Water, is aided by funds from donations through the Friends.

Please visit their website for more information!

How do I become a Zone Captain?

Do you have a littered area in Wake County in mind? Are you willing to lead volunteers in a safe cleanup? New Zone Captains are always welcome and needed! If interested, contact Wake County Big Sweep Coordinator, Alex Heinemann at 919-605-2207 or Alexandra.Heinemann@wake.gov for details and assistance.

Group of volunteers