Trash Trackers

    Join our group of Citizen Scientists!
    – Clean & Collect: Anytime, Anywhere –

    We all know that litter is harmful to our health, wildlife, forests, and oceans. Trash Trackers are here to do something about it!

    Not only do our amazing volunteers spend their time and energy picking up trash, they also participate in citizen science by tracking what kind of trash is being found and where. This data collection helps us find local waste patterns so we can advocate for waste reduction solutions in our community.

    How to Get Involved

    1. Sign-up
    2. Watch this 6 minute Trash Tracker Tutorial.
    3. Read this guide on safe cleanups.
    4. Safely pick-up and properly dispose of litter.
    5. Track your cleanup using NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker App or data card.
      • Familiarize yourself with the Marine Debris Identification Guide
      • Read this app tutorial or watch this video to find how you can become a citizen scientist and contribute to a worldwide database!
      • Make sure to choose the Northcoast Environmental Center from the list of organizations on the app.
      • Data Card Notes: While we prefer that volunteers record data in the app, we understand that this may not be feasible for everyone. If you are unable to use the Marine Debris Tracker App, feel free to download and print the NEC’s Marine Debris Data Card. If you do not have access to a printer copies are available at the NEC upon request. Filled out cards can be returned to the NEC office (415 I Street, Arcata, CA) through the mail slot.

    Explore Cleanup Data

    Visit the NOAA Marine Debris Tracker Dashboard to view our cleanup data. Login to see your cleanup data history or explore Northcoast Environmental Center’s overall cleanup stats.



    Volunteer Awards

    Tracker of the Month (TEMPORARILY ON PAUSE)
    The Top Tracker of the Month award will receive recognition in EcoNews and on the NEC’s social media.

    Tracker of the Year
    The Tracker of the Year award is given to an outstanding Trash Tracker participant. Prizes may include gift cards to local businesses, recognition in EcoNews and on NEC’s social media, and a Tracker of the Year Certificate.

    Cleanup Supplies

    Trash Tracker volunteers can borrow free cleanup gear from the Northcoast Environmental Center’s lending library. 

    • Reusable gloves
    • Hazardous waste containers
    • Bags
    • Cigarette containers
    • 5-gallon buckets
    • Orange safety vests
    • Trash grabbers
    • Magnet Sticks

    Adopt-A-Block & Adopt-A-Beach

    Want to take your cleanup commitment to the next level? Join our Adopt-A-Block or Adopt-A-Beach program and commit to cleaning a beloved neighborhood route or your favorite beach at least once a month. Visit for more information.


    Trash Trackers began in 2020 and is a combination of the NEC’s Adopt-A-Beach and Adopt-A-Block programs. Adopt-a-Beach began in 1982 when the NEC received federal funding for its Humboldt Beach Beautification and Restoration project. The success of those early beach cleanups led to the creation of Adopt-A-Beach, now a statewide event coordinated by the California Coastal Commission. Moreover, this effort inspired the creation of the highly successful California Coastal Cleanup Day, part of International Coastal Cleanup Day.