Activity Overview

Ready to be a scientist? This is your chance to contribute to community science and help collect important data about neighborhood trash levels! You will explore your neighborhood streets and document how much trash you see, learning about the different ways that trash impacts our community and environment. Then you will tap in to your creative side to draw a Trash Prevention Poster to teach others about the importance of reducing trash pollution.

Litter and trash are a very common type of non-point source pollution. Trash isn’t pretty to look at, and it also can harm our rivers, ocean, beaches and wildlife. Trash can also put our neighborhoods at risk by attracting pesky wildlife and causing flooding by clogging storm drains. The City of Santa Cruz and other local governments are working hard to reduce trash levels in our communities and we can all pitch in to help! In this activity, you will:

  1. Investigate and survey your neighborhood to document how much trash you see.
  2. Learn about the many reasons why trash is bad for our rivers and neighborhoods.
  3. Take action and create a Trash Prevention Poster to teach others about the importance of picking up trash.

Supports Next Generation Science Standards:

  • K-ESS3-3. Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
  • 5-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment. 
  • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

Materials Needed:

  • Worksheet PDF: Neighborhood Trash Study
  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • Blank paper
  • Pencil


  1. View the PDF Activity Guide online and grab blank paper to follow along.
  2. Investigate: Follow worksheet instructions to study and document trash levels in your neighborhood.
  3. Learn: Read the worksheet to learn about how trash impacts our neighborhood and our rivers.
  4. Take Action: Think about what we can do to reduce trash pollution. On a blank piece of paper, draw a Trash Prevention Poster to share why reducing trash is important.
  5. (Optional) Share your survey results and your posters with us! Email or tag @CoastalWatershedCouncil on Instagram or Facebook.

Additional Resources:

Thank you to the City of Santa CruzCity of CapitolaSanta Cruz County and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for supporting the Coastal Watershed Council’s Watershed Rangers environmental education program.

To all of the Watershed Rangers students, teachers and program partners, although we will not be able to see you in classrooms, field trips and after school programs right now, we hope to provide you and your loved ones with online resources and activities during this time. We know that parents, teacher and lifelong learners are seeking ways to stay engaged and active, and we’re going to be working to bring activities to you through the Coastal Watershed Council blog. Please share these resources and activities with friends, neighbors and parents groups and stay tuned for more.

Additional resources:

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