Prevent Litter

How Trash Gets into Creek Poster

Click here to see some common sources of litter and how it ends up in our creeks.

Litter is “Trashing” the Environment

Nearly 80 percent of the litter found in our creeks and the Bay is washed, blown or dumped there from land!

One piece of litter can end up miles from where it is thrown on a suburban street, polluting our creeks and causing a threat to wildlife.

How Litter Can Kill

  • Six-pack rings, rope, and discarded fishing line can wrap around fins, flippers and limbs of fish and other animals in the water.
  • Plastic bags, deflated balloons or other items can be mistaken for food and swallowed, blocking an animal’s digestive tract.
  • Chemicals found in plastics and other litter can leach into the water, polluting it further.
  • Illegally dumped trash can create flooding and erosion hazards, putting people and property in flood zones at a higher risk.
  • Illegally dumped tires and other trash can collect standing water, which creates a breeding zone for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Sources of litter

The primary sources of litter are: pedestrians, motorists, trucks with uncovered loads, incorrect household trash handling and its placement at the curb, loading docks, and construction sites.

You Can Make a Difference

  • If you see litter, pick it up and put it in a trash can. Even a cigarette butt thrown on a city street can flow through a storm drain into a local creek or directly out to the Bay.
  • Keep garbage and recycling cans tightly covered to prevent litter from being blown away or scattered by foraging animals.
  • Putting trash on or next to an overflowing trashcan is the same thing as littering; if there’s no room for your trash, take it with you until you can find a trashcan with room.
  • Dispose of pet waste in the garbage.
  • Dispose of cigarette butts properly.
  • Always bring a bag for your trash when picnicking, hiking, or camping.
  • Keep a trash bag in the car. Collect all trash and dispose of it properly.
  • When hauling materials by truck, enclose your loads or cover with a tarp to prevent anything from falling or blowing off the back.
  • Use reusable bags, bottles, mugs and other items to reduce what you need to throw away.
  • If you own a business, check your dumpster on a regular basis and protect it from illegal dumping.
  • Visit to find out where to dispose of or donate large household items such as furniture and appliances.
  • Participate in a cleanup event for National River Cleanup Day in May, and Coastal Cleanup Day in September.
  • Contact your local city to find out how you can participate in cleanup programs, or Like us and visit our Facebook page  for announcements.
  • Volunteer for cleanup events or adopt a beach with Save Our Shores.
  • Report littering from motor vehicles in Monterey County
  • Report illegal dumping and littered sites in Santa Cruz County: call 24-hour dispatch at (831) 477-3999 or at
  • Report and prevent illegal dumping in Monterey County