Region 7 Trash-Free Waters Challenge
We challenge you to help EPA keep the waters of our creeks, rivers, lakes and oceans TRASH-FREE!
The Trash-Free Waters Challenge is a category of the overall Region 7 Healthy Environments Challenge.
Did you know that the majority of the trash and plastic items found in the oceans actually came from land a long way upstream? Now that you do, you can help keep trash out of the oceans, even if you live far from the coast. Trash can be carried by rain, wind and floods into roadside ditches and storm drains that eventually lead to nearby creeks, streams and rivers. This trash can be carried for hundreds of miles until it empties into the ocean. Plastic items in water are a significant concern because of their harmful effects on the environment, wildlife, and human health. EPA's Trash-Free Waters program is focused on keeping waters trash-free by working with communities to reduce the amount of trash entering U.S. waterways and the world’s oceans.
We need YOUR help in keeping trash and plastic items from getting into our waterways and oceans!
- Develop student understanding of EPA’s role in the protection of our health and environment.
- Develop student understanding of trash and plastic items in the environment and their impact on water quality, wildlife, and human health.
- Foster student-driven ideas to keep trash and plastic items from impacting water quality, wildlife, and human health.
- Enhance student understanding of our choices to reduce the use of plastic items, use reusable bottles and bags, rethink what we buy, reuse materials, and recycle in our community.
- Challenge another set of students to participate in this challenge via friendly competition.
- Visit the EPA Trash-Free Waters webpage to:
- Learn more about trash in our waterways.
- See what EPA is doing to prevent land-based trash from ending up in our aquatic ecosystems.
- Get more information on what you can do to help.
- Play the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Trash Talk video for your students.
- Talk to your students about what they understood from EPA's Trash-Free Waters page and NOAA's video.
- Play the EPA Region 7 Trash-Free Waters Challenge video below for your students.
- Optional: Take your students to the school library to research trash, wildlife impacts from trash, harmful effects to humans from trash in the water, etc. Alternatively, visit a nearby park or school parking lot and remove trash found on the ground. Don't forget to take photos.
- Complete the Trash-Free Waters Activity.
- Use the Trash Art PDF provided below as a guide, or design your own art project. Other options include: 1) conducting a trash cleanup around your school or local park and then weighing the amount of material collected or counting the number of full trash bags, or 2) stenciling your school’s storm drains so all students, parents and teachers become aware that storm drains lead to local waterways.
- Record your students completing the activity with photos or video. Before-and-after photos can show your impact.
- Post your photos and/or video using the hashtag #HealthyEnvironmentsChallenge to social media and challenge it forward to the next classroom or group. This can be two separate social media posts or one posting that combines your completion of the challenge and includes challenging the next classroom, group or individuals. You can also use email to forward the challenge. Whichever you choose, please include the hashtag and the link to this webpage in your post or email.
- On social media, type the hashtag in the search bar to track how often it's been used and see who else has taken the challenge!
NOTE: Please use any part of this challenge as a tool for awareness and environmental education.