At School

Students around a desk.
Learning about marine debris helps change behaviors and make a difference. (Photo Credit: UVI)

How to Help

Learn how you can help solve the marine debris problem.
At Home

Learn about simple actions you can do at home to minimize your waste.

At the Store

Learn about how you can make an impact as a consumer.

On the Water

Learn about how you can help as a boater or fisher.

On the Shore

Learn about ways to keep our ocean, waterways, and beaches free of debris.

Learn More About Marine Debris

The first step to solving a problem is learning more about it. You can do your part to help solve the problem of marine debris by learning more, and sharing with others.


Help your students learn about this topic with our curricula and lesson plans. You can also sign up for our Educator Newsletter to get quarterly updates on marine debris news, activities, and professional development opportunities.


Check out the rest of the Discover Marine Debris section of this website, watch our TRASH TALK videos, or read our blog to learn more about how our trash gets to the ocean and Great lakes.

Start in the Cafeteria

Cafeterias produce a lot of waste such as disposable straws, utensils, trays, and food packaging. That makes the cafeteria the perfect place to start reducing the amount of waste your school produces. You can work with school administrators to change the types of utensils available for students, or you can create a campaign to teach students to say “no thanks” to disposable straws. Middle school students in Falmouth, MA started a “Skip the Straw” campaign in their school that eventually became a Marine Debris Program supported project, reaching the entire community.

Conduct a Waste Audit

We throw so much away without thinking about it. A waste audit is a great and easy activity to really examine our impact, and start thinking intentionally about the waste we produce.

  1. Decide how you are going to record your waste. The Trash Tracker worksheet in An Educator’s Guide to Marine Debris is a great place to start your waste audit.
  2. Write down everything your classroom throws away or recycles everyday for the next week.
  3. At the end of the week, have the students tally all the waste they threw away and brainstorm ideas on how they can reduce their trash that may become marine debris.

Monitor Marine Debris

The Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP) is a citizen science program designed to collect rigorous scientific data about marine debris on beaches across the country and around the world. It is also a program that your school can be a part of. Check out the Marine Debris Monitoring Toolkit for Educators to learn how students can take part in real science! The data that goes into the MDMAP database is used in studies to learn more about marine debris and where it is found.

The Marine Debris Monitoring Toolkit for Educators was created with the help of teachers and students from Scotts Valley High School near Santa Barbara, CA. You can see them collect data and make a difference in the latest episode of our video series TRASH TALK, Trash Counts.

Not ready for the commitment of the MDMAP? Try the Marine Debris Tracker App instead! Use the app to record data on the trash you find, whether you're at the beach or just on the playground.