Trash Free Texas

Basin-wide Community Engagement Strategies to Reduce Aquatic Debris

H-GAC has partnered with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment to establish a unified, coordinated approach to litter abatement and community engagement in the six river basins in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston regions.

In Texas, over 435 million pieces of visible litter accumulate on roadways each year. It is in our community, the sides of our roads, in our rivers, and along our beaches. Litter control efforts cost the American taxpayers over $11 billion each year. And approximately 80% of the trash in our waterways originates from land-based sources, such as roadways. This project aims to address this issue.

The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston areas represent well-over 50% of the state’s total population and are connected through these basins and ultimately impact Galveston Bay and adjacent areas in the Gulf of Mexico. Trash removal from these watersheds requires an ongoing, significant effort that comes with great expense to local governments and many non-profit partners.

Project Goals

Through this 3-year project, we seek to:

  1. Increase Adopt-A-Spot locations through Trash Free Texas and support a common Trash Collection Database for the state.

  2. Provide outreach and engagement support for regional clean-up events through partnerships with local governments, recreational clubs (such as cycling and running clubs), and Keep Texas Beautiful affiliates.

  3. Work with Texas-based restaurants to reduce the use of single-use plastic.

  4. Share project successes with other councils of government and replicate this work across the state.

Volunteer Litter Cleanup Resources

The Trash Free Texas program has several resources available to help entities plan, promote, implement, or expand volunteer litter cleanup activities in their community.

  1. The Trash Free Texas Adopt-A-Spot Map allows entities to advertise locations in their community that volunteers can adopt for litter cleanups.

  2. The Trash Free Texas Partner Packet provides resources to promote the Adopt-A-Spot Map, an entity's Partner status, and their adoptable spots.

  3. The Community Cleanup Challenge Toolkit provides resources to plan and implement a challenge-style litter cleanup event such as a local community cleanup  challenge or a regional Mayor's Challenge. Resources can also help with standard litter cleanup events.

  4. The Local Government's Toolkit is a consolidation of resources to help entity's engage and educate residents on topics related to litter.

  5. The Recreational Toolkit provides resources for entities looking for ways to engage volunteers in new types of litter cleanups such as plogging, pladdling, etc.

Trash Free Texas Newsletter

In March 2021, H-GAC launched the first issue of the Trash Free Texas Quarterly News and Updates.

This monthly newsletter will offer more information about Trash Free Texas, an initiative by the Houston-Galveston Area Council and partners aimed at reducing or eliminating litter along area waterways. The newsletter will also feature litter reduction efforts from our partners across the region.

Join our mailing list if you are interested in receiving this monthly update or sharing news about your litter reduction activities.

Past Meetings and Events

At this webinar, participants explored how two resources, the Trash Free Texas Adopt-A-Spot Map and the Texas Litter Database, can assist communities and organizations in building or enhancing volunteer litter cleanup programs.

At this webinar, participants explored ways to use the Adopt-A-Spot website as part of new or ongoing litter cleanup efforts, saw a demonstration of adding sites to the map, and had a conversation with an Adopt-A-Spot partner who will shared success stories and answered questions.

Attendees learned how to use the updated Adopt-A-Spot online tool, including how to submit new location for adoption and how to become a waterway cleanup volunteer.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Trash Free Texas program connects local government leaders and Keep Texas Beautiful affiliates with data to help them strategically identify and adopt areas in need of clean up. Trash Free Texas hosts the “Adopt-a-Spot” site and Online Mapping Tool, created to foster a litter-free environment in Texas watersheds and track trash removal activities. Learn more here

This project is funded through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Trash Free Waters Grant Program. Learn more here.

The timeline for this project is September 2020 - August 31, 2023.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is a voluntary association of, by and for local governments, and was established to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development. Learn more here.

The Meadows Center is a leader in water and environment management and policy topics in Texas, the U.S. and internationally. The Meadows Center supports responsible natural resource and water policy in Texas and convenes stakeholders to address critical water and natural resource concerns and the grand challenges that we will face in the decades to come. Learn more about The Meadows Center.

There are many ways to become involved! Check the project website for details on upcoming trainings, work group meetings, and potential cleanup events.