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Taking Responsibility and Saving Habitats (T.R.A.S.H.) Watershed Cleanup Program

Get involved with removing trash and debris from local watersheds through community conservation. The T.R.A.S.H. (Taking Responsibility and Saving Habitats) program is a diverse group dedicating their time to removing and preventing ocean debris.

empty plastic cup and other assorted garbage mixed with plant debris on a beach

T.R.A.S.H. provides a fun and safe opportunity for volunteers to be empowered in trash cleanups, reducing or preventing trash in the ocean, and ensuring a clean environment for everyone to enjoy. This program helps maintain a clean environment while volunteers learn about personal impacts on an ecosystem, and to develop an appreciation for marine conservation in local communities. Program participants perform independent clean up actions with members of their households and local quarantine-safe groups throughout the Southern California area. Cleanups are focused on waterways, including beaches, rivers, wetlands, and storm drains.


Volunteers take responsibility for a section of their local watershed. This can be a local beach, waterway, or neighborhood with storm drains. Locations may include publicly accessible areas in residential neighborhoods, wetlands, or beaches.

  • Volunteers who are conducting independent cleanups notify their TRASH lead when they start and when they end cleanup sessions.
  • Volunteers must maintain safe physical distancing and proper PPE, including wearing gloves and masks.
  • Volunteers are also invited to attend cleanup events hosted by partner organizations following CDC safety guidelines and physical distancing protocols. Participating in these events is optional, and availability varies from month to month. We encourage volunteers to attend in person events that match their comfort level.
  • Volunteers are responsible for their own safety and documentation while participating in cleanups.
  • Monthly Zoom T.R.A.S.H. Talk check in (about 30 minutes)

Skill Requirements:

  • Able to walk or travel along a path or cleanup area outside for 1-4 hours
  • Ability to use a smartphone to notify leads of starting and ending times and record trash as it is picked up.
  • Ability to send pictures recording impact of volunteer service.
  • Preferred: have a passion for protecting the environment and conservation, a reliable form of transportation.
  • Age: At least 16 years old or with a parent or legal guardian.

Time Commitment:

Cleanups are usually completed in one hour, although you may choose a longer or more intensive shift, as long as you remain safe and hydrated.

Shift times are:

We invite volunteers to record their shifts in the way that best fits their safety and their schedule. Most shifts are about one hour long, patrolling the local watershed area. Volunteers also participate in a regular monthly Zoom meeting

Working Conditions:

Outside, bending or using grabbers to pick up trash, and traveling along a path, sidewalk, or trail. Volunteers should be able to transport all trash they pick up, which can vary according to the site (between 1-10 pounds). Proper safety attire is required, including wearing gloves, closed-toed shoes, and masks. Recommend wearing hat, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and carrying plenty of water.


Two trainings are required: a 3-hour Ambassador Training and a 3-hour Aquarium 101 class. Please note that these trainings are offered on a digital learning platform and can be completed at your own pace. New volunteers are supported by assigned Ambassador Leads for each shift, to talk through daily shifts and questions until they demonstrate proficiency at each Ambassador zone. Volunteers will be expected to attend daily meetings, keep updated by reviewing weekly update emails, and remain current on any other training that may arise as policies change or are revised.


Drawings, recognition, and connecting to a community of like-minded conservation volunteers. Volunteer (Party for the Planet) T-Shirt is earned after 25 hours of service.


Thank you for your interest in volunteering with the T.R.A.S.H. program at the Aquarium of the Pacific!

Apply here

Volunteering at the Aquarium

The Aquarium owes much of its success to our dedicated and committed volunteer staff. You can be part of that story by joining our team in one of the many volunteer or intern programs that we offer throughout the Aquarium.