Map of survey space.
Map showing locations of concern (marked with black box outlines) due to high levels of trash accumulation (both in number and size/volume) along the Pinole Creek (blue line) located in California. These areas were identified for follow-up study locations and the information provided through the study helped inform placement of new trash bins, along with other policy recommendations. Credit: Cowger et al. [2023], Figure 11
Editors’ Highlights are summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors.
Source: Community Science
This research supports UN Sustainable Development Goal 11.

It is not every day that trash brings diverse groups of people together and motivates community action and policy change. In Pinole, California, a Thriving Earth Exchange community science project led to more than a trash audit. Community groups worked together to count and categorize trash in the local watershed, providing an understanding of the problem’s scale and source, allowing for prioritization of follow-up study locations and trash types (plastic single-use food packaging and tobacco waste) for the development of recommendations to City Council.

The project is noteworthy for its inclusive use of community from a range of backgrounds and ages and for its careful planning and follow through to policy. The information collected is being used to inform placement of new trash bins and the development of ordinances that might ban certain waste. Cowger et al. [2023] show how community science can be an effective informer and driver of positive change. 

Citation: Cowger, W., Gomez, I., Martinez-Rubin, N., Moriarty, A., Harwell, T., & Anich, L. (2023). Community science-informed local policy: A case study in Pinole Creek Litter Assessment. Community Science, 2, e2022CSJ000017. 

— Kathryn Semmens, Editor, Community Science 

Text © 2023. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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