Posted by Rotary District 7070 Environmental Action Committee

The Rotary ‘GREAT LAKES WATERSHED CLEANUP’ is here.  From Saturday April 24 (to coincide with Earth Day on April 22)  through mid June 2021, over 20,000 Rotarians on both sides of the Canadian and U.S. border will roll up their sleeves to collect refuse along the shoreline, and innumerable waterway tributaries to the Great Lakes basin.  This is great example of ‘ROTARY IN ACTION’ and brings considerable community attention to the importance of ‘ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY’

With the Ontario COVID-19 shutdown to the end of April, we encourage Rotary and Rotaract clubs to find a date between now and mid June that works for your club to participate.

The District 7070 Environmental Action Committee is leading the Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup Initiative, as it gets rolled out right across our District. This is an initiative hatched by our District 7070 Governor Mark Chipman, with his fellow District Governors surrounding the Great Lakes. Mark is very excited about the potential for this event and here's why..... It’s actually huge – with 15 districts involved – 500 Clubs & 20,000 Rotarians.  This is your Call To Action - What is your club doing?   Please Read more....


To date we have commitments from 15 Districts bordering the Great Lakes as well as the Niagara, St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers and the Erie Canal in New York State. How about your club? We are naming the event the Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup to open it up to any club on a waterway that empties into the Great Lakes system. Rotary International Director Valarie Wafer with Rotary International President Holger Knaack are both supportive of this collaborative project.

This will be a great way to engage our Rotary Family and non-Rotarians in a day of action, draw attention to our fragile environment and our desire to be part of the solution. With the plan for heavy promotion it is an opportunity to bring awareness to the good work of Rotary.

Get your club to select a nearby waterway or even a local park to clean up and be a part of this exciting event on April 24!

It’s being billed as a …

Great opportunity: For FELLOWSHIP (in a COVID era), to invest SWEAT EQUITY in our community, & WELCOME SPRING

It’s also an extraordinary Public Image opportunity to demonstrate & record ROTARY IN ACTION for our social media feeds & website – take lots of pictures and post to your Club social media feeds

And it matches up well with one of our District Environmental Action Committee’s goals to bring significant community attention to ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILTY

There may also be a friendly competition among Clubs & Districts (more to come) – & we’re working on getting T-Shirts &/or hats etc.

PLEASE NOTE: The organizing committee for the Rotary Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup is cognizant of the uncertainties concerning events and gatherings during COVID.  All measures and decisions around proceeding will be made by District 7070, in coordination with all relevant governmental and health authorities.  The health and safety of our members and guests is paramount. 

With the Ontario COVID-19 shutdown to the end of April, we encourage Rotary and Rotaract clubs to find a date between now and mid June that works for your club to participate. 


More Info for you on the Rotary Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup

It is time for you to Mobilize Rotarians, Rotaractors and the whole Rotary family in District 7070 and around the Great Lakes

The Rotary Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup initiative is an effort to focus attention to the Great Lakes and to all the great work that is being done to cleanup our lakes, streams, and waterways. Through the coordination of many associated clean up events, to be held around the week of Earth Day, our goal is to make this the single largest series of linked clean up events ever planned and held during this one period of time on the Great Lakes.

Trash, plastics and other littered items plague oceans, lakes, and rivers. This trash poses a threat to terrestrial and aquatic life, often becomes microplastics and harmful toxins, and pollutes one of the most precious and limited natural resources.

According to a report from the Rochester Institute of Technology, more than 22 million pounds of trash and plastic pollution ends up in the Great Lakes each year. Globally, each Earth Day over a billion people worldwide work together in their communities. The Great Lakes contains almost 20% of the world’s freshwater and the Great Lakes System is arguably the largest source of fresh water on the planet.

Each spring, numerous cleanup events occur in the US and Canada throughout the Great Lakes watersheds to remove accumulated debris and waste that has collected. Shopping carts, tires, furniture, trash, numerous foam cups, plastic containers and aluminum cans can be found along our waterways and greenways. These cleanup events remove thousands of pounds of garbage from the environment each year.  Unfortunately, after each cleanup, this debris continues to accumulate through on-going littering and illegal dumping.

 Cleanups from numerous NGOs, community groups and individual volunteers are critical to reducing the amount of garbage that collects in our watersheds each year. In order to track our success, the second goal of this effort will be to tabulate the amount of debris collected from each of the individual clean up events. And the final and most important goal of this event will be to educate the public to the importance of protecting our waterways, to instill a sense of stewardship towards our Great Lakes.

The individual Rotary Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup events should be planned to be held between Saturday April 17th and Saturday April 24th, to coincide with the celebration of Earth Day which falls on April 22nd.


The objectives of holding this large scale coordinated cleanup event is to:

1. Improve the aesthetics of the Great Lakes by removing garbage from public areas and roadsides

2. Reduce the amount of plastic and litter on our lands and in our waterways

3. Remove waste that could potentially be ingested by pets and other wildlife

4. Provide an opportunity for public participation in collaborative activities

5. Educate the public about the effects of littering, the importance of recycling, and instill a sense of stewardship

6. Collect and report back to organizers cleanup metrics to track the impacts of all the cleanups


  • Engage as many Districts, Clubs, Rotarians, Rotaractors and other volunteers around the Great Lakes

  • Your Club should find out what is happening in your community(s) regarding cleanups. Engage with your local Conservation Authorities, Watershed groups, Regional Municipality or local NGO to see what is already planned in your area, to see if there is an opportunity to coordinate or partner with an existing event.

  • If there is not an event already planned in your community, look to organize your own event. Involve the community for their help.

  • Support will be available to each club or group to help with organizing an event

  • Correspond with our District 7070 Environmental Action Committee contacts to provide cleanup event date, locations, and a lead contact person from your club for your event.

  • Social media - tell the world what your club is going to do on April 24 well in advance; show your community what you will be doing and post lots of photos and stories while you are doing the clean up; AND be sure to thank everyone after the event is finished



Start today.

Get your club organized.

Get your community organized and enthused.

Involve your local politicians to volunteer and help promote your cleanup.

Involve the local media. Tell them all about your club and your club's desire to help sustain a clean environment in your community with the help of your community.

Start posting to social media today.

Make sure your club is part of this huge environmental action on April 24 along with 20,000 Rotarians, and Rotaractors and the whole Rotary family from over 500 clubs surrounding the Great Lakes

For more information and help, please contact anyone on the District 7070 Environmental Action Committee :
Dan Coombes  -

Cora Xiao  -

Nilam Bedi  -