Trash Free Texas Community Engagement Strategies to Reduce Aquatic Debris

H-GAC 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 through the Trash Free Texas program.

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.

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.

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

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.

Past Newsletters

Trash Free Texas Adopt-A-Spot Webinars

February 23, 2023 - Trash Free Texas Adopt-A-Spot Webinar

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.

February 24, 2022 - Trash Free Texas Adopt-A-Spot Webinar

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.

February 25, 2021 - Trash Free Texas: Adopt-A-Spot Training (Online)

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

What is Trash Free Texas?

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 about Trash Free Texas.

Who is funding this project?

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

How long will the project last?

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

What is the North Central Texas Council of Governments?

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 about the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

What is The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment?

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.

How can I get involved?

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