The Zero Litter Campaign
A group of students with monitoring equipment on a beach.
Students monitor a beach as part of the Zero Litter Project. (Photo Credit: EarthTeam)
A student writes "show the creek some love" on the sidewalk.
EarthTeam participants in action! (Photo Credit: EarthTeam)
Two students with trash grabbers.
EarthTeam participants in action! (Photo Credit: EarthTeam)

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is partnering with EarthTeam to educate and train high school students to lead “Zero Litter Campaigns” in their schools and communities, aimed to prevent land-based litter from becoming marine debris.

Type of Project: Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant

Region: California

Project Dates: August 2015 - July 2016

Who is involved?
EarthTeam is implementing an anti-litter outreach and education program for high schoolers in the San Francisco Bay Area, through support from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant.

What is the project and why is it important?
Littering can be a big source of marine debris, and it is not just a coastal problem. Litter can be picked up by the wind or washed into storm drains by rain and carried into streams and rivers that eventually transport the trash to the ocean. Litter that becomes marine debris can have many adverse impacts including being eaten by wildlife, entangling animals, harming habitat, and limiting fishing and recreation.

The Zero Litter Project is working with teams of two teachers and twelve interns from six San Francisco Bay Area high schools to implement “Zero Litter Campaigns” at their schools and in their communities. The students learn about marine debris and receive communication and leadership training to develop their campaigns. In addition, they use the Marine Debris Tracker App to collect data from weekly litter surveys in and around their schools, and then map and analyze the data to better understand the local problems and to develop recommendations for the school and local communities. EarthTeam created a great online mapping tool to show the data collected by the students.

As part of their campaign, the high school interns conduct education and outreach at their schools and to the public through presentations to their peers and participation at local festivals and events. The interns also design and implement projects throughout the year, such as organizing community beach cleanups, installing educational marine debris art on waste bins, holding community webinars, and more. The students document their projects and reflect on what they learn on their school's Zero Litter blog and on Instagram.

For more on this project, check out the Marine Debris Clearinghouse.

Click the image for a larger display.

A student writes "show the creek some love" on the sidewalk.
EarthTeam participants in action! (Photo Credit: EarthTeam)
Two students with trash grabbers.
EarthTeam participants in action! (Photo Credit: EarthTeam)