04.13.21 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 announced the launch of the Trash-Free Waters Challenge. Under the umbrella of the EPA Healthy Environments Challenge program, the Trash-Free Waters Challenge is designed to develop student understanding of trash in the environment, and help them learn how they can help mitigate its impact on water quality, wildlife, and human health. Educators and other youth leaders can get started by visiting the EPA Healthy Environments Challenge webpage to find helpful instructions on how to complete the social media challenge, and then challenge others using the hashtag #HealthyEnvironmentsChallenge and webpage link.

Teachers, educators, parents, and organizations can use the Trash-Free Waters activities to:

  • 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 its impact on water quality, wildlife, and human health.
  • Foster student-driven ideas to prevent 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 others to participate in this social media challenge via friendly competition.

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. Much of the trash and plastic items found in the oceans came from land a long way upstream. 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.

Learn more about the Trash-Free Waters Challenge: www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region-7-trash-free-waters-challenge

Learn more about Trash-Free Waters: www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters

Learn more about Sustainable Materials Management: www.epa.gov/smm