A Youth Lead Project: Reducing Plastic Waste in the Duwamish Valley
Zero Waste Washington is working with student groups to conduct community-based education and engagement around litter that impacts the Duwamish River and nearby Puget Sound.
Type of Project: Prevention
Region: Pacific Northwest
Project Dates: September 2020 - September 2022
Who is involved?
Zero Waste Washington and Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, with the support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, are working to implement a youth-led project to reduce plastic pollution. Student groups from the Duwamish Valley Youth Corp Program, a youth environmental justice program, will use litter assessments to inform community education and engagement efforts specifically around marine debris and single-use plastic food packaging impacts associated with the Duwamish River.
What is the project and why is it important?
Single-use plastic food packaging, which is among the top items found in litter cleanups in Washington, can wash into waterways and eventually break down into microplastics. Through this project, three 12-week youth cohorts will engage in educational curriculum, litter assessments, waste-related tours, and video production skill-building that will ultimately lead to student-created educational videos, messaging, and outreach materials about marine debris. They will then use these tools to conduct community outreach, including to their peers and businesses, making others aware of the impact of single-use plastic packaging to the Duwamish River, which flows into the Puget Sound, and the ways they can prevent waste. Additionally, they will present their videos at events and through social media, and develop recommendations, based on their interaction with businesses, for decision makers about barriers to plastic pollution reduction and waste prevention.
Environmental justice is one of many important concerns in the Duwamish Valley, which consists of a highly multicultural and underserved community. The Duwamish Valley Youth Corps draws participation from South Park, Georgetown, and adjacent areas. Through this youth-led project, Zero Waste Washington hopes that the messaging created reflects the communities’ perspective, and in turn, will be highly effective in reducing the amount of litter entering local waterways and reducing plastic pollution from food packaging. Through their participation, students will be nurtured and encouraged to become future stewards of the environment.
For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.