Community | Conservation | Diversity | Youth

TU Family Field Trip: Pollution pickup

A fun day on the water picking up trash can lead to important lessons in pollution, impacts on rivers and the ocean, and more.

Take your kids on a quest to become “Pollution Preventers” and head to a local river or stream to pick up trash from in or along the water.

Use the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, but also to discover and discuss the impacts and outcomes of our reliance on single-use plastics, the issue of pollution and how it damages rivers, streams and the oceans and threatens entire ecosystems and the animals that live there.

Use #cleanmywater and @troutunlimited on Facebook and Instagram to share your trash cleanup picture, join thousands of TU members and supporters like you working to keep our rivers clean, and to encourage other families to get out on the water and make a difference together.

Having a fun, goofy time outside as a family while taking care of the environment.

What you need:

  • Waders, boots or water shoes
  • Fishing nets, re-usable grocery bags or buckets to carry trash
    • Try to avoid using single-use plastic trash bags on a clean-up
  • A smartphone or camera to capture your haul and celebrate your success

Ask kids questions during the activity:

  • Where does all this plastic and trash come from?
  • Where would it go if we didn’t pick it up? (Be specific – which river is downstream, which estuary or ocean does it drain into?)
  • What type of trash did we find the most of? Why do you think that is?
  • How would you stop people from throwing more trash into or along the river?
  • How does this trash impact the ecosystem and the animals living here?

Pre-reading opportunities:

Kids vs. Plastic – National Geographic Kids (Ages 6-15)

Rivers: Plastic ‘Highways’ Into the Ocean – CNN (Ages 13-18)

Trout Unlimited clean-up campaigns

  • #CleanMyWater – Anyone who enjoys the outdoors is asked to pick up one netful (or bag) of trash from their local stream or river and post a photo to Instagram using #CleanMyWater and @UCCTU. Photos can be as silly, fun or artistic as you want, as long as they show the garbage you removed. Not only does this encourage others to get out and make a difference, everyone who participates March – June 2020 will have a chance to win some great prizes from the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
  • #CleantheGreen2020 – People are encouraged to clean up the Green River and its tributaries from it headwaters in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains 730 miles to its confluence with the Colorado River in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Monthly and grand prizes will be awarded for those who share images of picking up trash anywhere in the Green River damage.

Editor’s Note: Students across America are unexpectedly home due to the coronavirus outbreak, and the disease it causes, COVID-19. Trout Unlimited wants to help families make the most of the unexpected time together by providing some fun, educational and social distancing-friendly activities in the outdoors. We will be sharing a collection of activities as part of the TU Family Field Trip series. Our first priority is to keep all of our members and friends safe and healthy, so please consider the following article in light of your current state or local government recommendations for activity. If the time isn’t right for you or your family to engage in this activity, save it as an idea for a future date when things have settled and there is a better sense of what lays ahead.