Promoting Marine Debris Prevention through the Earth Genius Program in California

A green compost bin next to a red waste bin and a yellow recycle bin.

One Cool Earth’s Earth Genius Program is working with public school administrators, teachers, and students to implement a marine debris education program in San Luis Obispo schools. 

Type of Project: Prevention

Region: California

Project Dates: August 2020 - April 2022

Who is involved?
With the support of the NOAA Marine Debris Program, One Cool Earth's Earth Genius Program will empower students in underserved regions to address marine debris, institutionalize zero waste policy and practices in schools, and train and support teachers to carry out marine debris education.

What is the project and why is it important?
In the United States, most marine debris comes from land-based litter. Modifying litter-related behaviors among youth throughout coastal watersheds can help reduce marine debris. The Earth Genius program aims to change life-long behaviors of over 7,500 students at 17 different schools, which generate more than one million pounds of waste each year, by providing year-round marine debris education to raise awareness and generate solutions for marine debris issues. 

One Cool Earth will work with five school district decision-makers in food services, facilities, and administration to support litter prevention practices (e.g., food composting systems, waste sorting stations, water-bottle filling stations, improved bin placement) and policies (e.g., food packaging, school materials, campus cleanups). In addition, this program will train and support up to 250 teachers and staff to carry out litter-prevention education and practices. By influencing the behaviors of the institution and the adults who operate it, the Earth Genius Program can systematically affect youth purchasing, disposal, and littering behaviors, and create immense impacts for marine debris in California.

For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.