Reducing Marine Debris by Targeting Youth and Teenage Litterers
Trash on the Potomac River.
Trash on the Potomac River in D.C. Credit: AFF

The Alice Ferguson Foundation and NOAA Marine Debris Program teamed up to educate teenage litterers in the Potomac River watershed and prevent marine debris through promoting behavior change.

Project Dates: September 2014 - August 2016

What’s the project?
The Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) used behavioral observations, an in-depth literature review, best practices for messaging youth and young adults, and a dedicated outreach staff to shape a successful marine debris prevention campaign. As a part of this project, AFF enlisted students, teachers, and schools in Trash Free Schools, a program that conducted cleanups, delivered marine debris lessons, and aligned with local green school standards.

This project empowered the next generation of environmental stewards and stopped debris at its source by targeting high-risk littering audiences such as youth and teenagers with well-crafted community and school-based marine debris prevention strategies. AFF focused its efforts on youth in Washington, D.C., Prince George's County, Maryland, and Prince William County, Virginia.

Who is involved?
AFF is a non-profit organization that educates the public on local agriculture sustainability and watershed stewardship. AFF led this effort in partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris program as part of NOAA's Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach funding opportunity.

What does it accomplish?
If youth and teenagers, a typically high-risk littering audience, understand the marine debris problem and their impact on it, they are less likely to litter and more inclined to dispose of trash properly -- ultimately preventing debris from entering our waterways.

What is something unique about the project?
AFF created a powerful marine debris reduction campaign by engaging students and teachers to lead their community in behavior changes. AFF also provided a resource for environmentally mindful organizations across the United States, a Trash Free Schools guidebook and materials for educators.