As the Project Clean Stream (PCS) staff lead, I often get questions from site captains about where to host their cleanup events. One of my favorite aspects of PCS is just how community-driven it is. I always encourage volunteers to think hyper-locally. Neighborhoods, streets, and parks make for great cleanup sites. Trash, unfortunately, hides everywhere, even when it’s not immediately visible.

Last year, I had the opportunity to lead a cleanup event in southern Maryland. Upon arrival, there was a plethora of visual litter that was quite easy to collect. However, at second glance, I noticed just how much trash is camouflaged within the environment!

Can you spot the trash?

Left, a plastic jug blends in with the sun patterns on the water. Right, a closer look shows plastic litter embedded in the riverbed.


Do you see the trash in the photo on the left? On the right, plastic litter camouflages with fallen leaves.


Left, a white bottle cap just barely makes itself visible. But on the right, from a crouched-down view, a glass bottle reveals itself.


Can you find the litter in these photos? A plastic straw blends in with the green water reflections. A shard of glass hides in a pile of stones. A metal saw blade deteriorates in the soil.


Not much is noticeable other than a small yellow spec in the top right portion of the photo on the left. In the center photo, upon pulling back the vines, a deteriorating yellow jug is crushed into the soil and surrounded by little yellow and green leaves. Finally, a closer image on the right reveals the plastic litter more clearly.


Do you see the plastic straw in the photo on the left? A closer look shows it nudged under a pile of leaves.

Think locally when you are cleaning up your watershed this PCS season. Take an extra moment to be in your environment. Find where the trash hides and remove it before pollution reaches your waterway.

Project Clean Stream will kick off this year on Friday, April 12, 2024.

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