Litter Prevention

No matter where litter is dropped on the ground in Alameda County, it can end up in our water.

litter cleanupDuring any local creek or beach cleanup, volunteers find hundreds of pounds of litter. One way litter travels is through storm drains that lead directly to creeks, wetlands and the Bay.

Despite having volunteer cleanups, Alameda County jurisdictions still spend approximately $24 million every year on litter and storm drain cleanup.

Many studies have documented the harm litter causes when it remains in the water. The most common items—cigarette butts and plastics—degrade slowly over time and leave behind toxic residue and tiny particles. Birds, fish and other animals mistake these items for food, and can die or become sick, as their digestive system becomes clogged. beach litter sealLitter ends up in creeks, on beaches and in the ocean where it can harm wildlife.

Litter that flows into the Bay can eventually end up in one of the identified “garbage patches” where ocean current patterns trap the plastic micro-debris in the ocean ecosystem.

What You Can Do

Participate in local cleanups. Many cities and local nonprofits sponsor cleanups. Coastal Cleanup Day happens every September and offers many opportunities to pitch in. See our Volunteer page for more.

Put litter in its place. Use nearby garbage cans or pack your trash until you reach the next available trash can.

Use Reusables. You can prevent litter by using a travel mug, cloth napkin and reusable lunch kits.

reusable lunch boxReusable lunch kits keep snacks fresh and prevent litter before it happens. Tell your friends. Many people don’t know how serious a problem litter is. You can help by encouraging your friends to put litter in the right place.


  • Be the Street - A community campaign committed to keeping Bay Area streets clean, safe and free of litter and pollution.
  • Litterati - By combining technology, grassroots engagement and art,
    Litterati is tackling the problem of litter one piece at a time.
  • Keep America Beautiful aims to engage individuals to create clean, beautiful public places, reduce waste and increase recycling in their communities.
  • Keep Oakland Beautiful