Is Trash Still a Problem?

We’ve taken huge strides to reduce, reuse and recycle. Many communities in Iowa have extensive recycling and garbage collection systems in place. Unfortunately, we are still seeing an alarming rate of litter along banks and shores as well as in our streams, rivers, and lakes.

Once garbage enters our waterways, it is referred to as aquatic trash. Not only is aquatic trash an unsightly pollutant, but creates a long list of problems. For example:

  • — Cleaning it up can be expensive for communities and their residents.
  • — Can be a breeding ground for bacteria and pests that can spread disease to humans.
  • — Clogs up the flow of water that can result in localized flooding.
  • — Its an eyesore that reduces the appeal of waterfront destinations.
  • — Potential to damage boats when entangled in propellers or clogged intakes.
  • — Suffocation and drowning hazard for animals that get entangled.
  • — Once ingested by aquatic life, it can cause starvation and other harmful effects.
  • Smothers plants and covers up habitat necessary for the survival of aquatic life.
  • — Negatively impacts local economies that rely on the fishing industry for employment, income, and tourism.

How Does Trash Get Into Our Water?

Garbage that originates on land has the potential to make its way to our water in various ways.

Take Action to Keep Our Water Trash Free!

Attention Community Leaders!

Tired of seeing your community and water resources get trashed? Lead by example and start a local 24on24 Campaign!

Educate members of your community. Be present at local clean-up events. Use social media platforms to inform how unmanaged litter and aquatic trash negatively affects your local water resources.

Encourage action within your community. Create a pledge that inspires residents to pick up 24 pieces of litter near their home, work, or place of recreation on the 24th of each month. Work with local businesses and neighborhood associations to host and promote 24on24 events.

Heads up, Neighborhood & Business Groups!

Anyone who takes pride in where they live, work, and recreate are naturally compelled to act. The less litter people see, the less likely they are to litter as well.

Showing unity and collaboration gets results. Ask fellow residents and workers to sign the 24on24 Pledge. Host and/or sponsor a 24on24 event. Promote and participate in other city-wide clean-ups.

24on24 Pledge

Litter is a problem in my community that negatively affects our land and water. We are not alone, as many communities across Iowa have this issue. 

I am/we are ready to be part of the solution to stop litter pollution by working with businesses and residents who care enough to take ACTION!  

Take the 24on24 Pledge and agree to the following:  

I/we pledge to pick up 24 pieces of litter near my/our home, work, or place of recreation on the 24th of each month.

I/we pledge to dispose of trash only in intended receptacles. 

I/we pledge to secure items in my/our vehicle so that they do not become litter on the highway. 

I/we understand that when our land and water are litter-free, they attract more people, improve business, and foster a greater sense of community pride.

Who has a local 24on24 Campaign?

Here is a list of communities across Iowa that are serious about reducing litter and eliminating the negative effects of aquatic trash. Don’t see your community listed? Contact Noah Truesdell at to be added.


City of Des Moines

City of Sioux City

City of Ames

City of Sergeant Bluff