Plastic bags, cigarette butts, beverage bottles and other litter can detract from an area’s beauty, smother aquatic plants and bottom-dwelling organisms, add toxic contaminants to the water and make animals sick. While nine in ten watershed residents never toss food wrappers, cups or cigarette butts onto the ground, about five percent of watershed residents sometimes, usually or always do. Watershed organizations around the region rely on volunteers to remove litter from waterways, and many cities have installed trash traps to capture litter and debris.
Through Project Clean Stream, almost 5,000 volunteers removed more than 200,000 pounds of trash from more than 660 cleanup sites last spring. And in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, a water wheel nicknamed "Mr. Trash Wheel" collected 165 tons of trash between January and December of 2016.