LAUNCH Lessons:
Adopt-a-Spot 6th-12th

This toolkit address the following Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) within the Performance Expectations of NGSS for Grades: K-2 and 3-5

  • Asking Questions and Defining a Problem
  • Planning and Carrying out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Obtaining Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Students will analyze their daily habits to see where they can reduce their waste, energy, and water usage.

Project Management

  • Students will keep track of how many resources they are saving.
  • Students will practice leadership skills by delegating tasks to each other.

Evaluation and Assessment
Students will track and evaluate the impact of their project.

Table of Contents

Adopt a Spot and clean your community!

When you “Adopt a Spot” the same way you would a new puppy or pet, you have an amazing opportunity to be responsible for keeping your chosen area clean and healthy!

Within this toolkit, you’ll find various downloadable resources. For your convenience, you can access them all in one place by clicking on this link to view them in a Google Drive folder.

Toolkit Details

Why It's Important

Imagine waking up everyday to trash on the streets and limited efforts from the city and garbage collection companies to pick up that trash.Litter damages the environment, harms animals and people, wastes money, and makes communities with poorer, Indigenious, or People of Color feel neglected and under-valued. This makes trash an Environmental Justice issue. It also affects how these residents feel about their lives and neighborhood.

What You Will Accomplish

Participants take action to ensure specific campus areas stay litter-free.

Why Litter is Rubbish!

The resources provided can be shown as a slideshow or printed out as individual worksheets for students to learn.

People Make A LOT of Litter!

You might only see a few pieces of litter on your street, but scientists found that there are more than 13 thousand pieces of litter for every mile of American roadway.  All together, there are about 51 billion pieces of litter on all US roads at any moment. [1] When you count all of the trash in the ocean, there are more pieces of plastic in the seas than there are stars in the galaxy.

Litter Travels!

A plastic wrapper dropped in a parking lot doesn’t stay there for long. It gets blown to the curb, washed through storm drains, into rivers, and out to sea. Scientists believe there are almost 9 million tons of plastic in the ocean—every year. This is like five grocery bags filled with plastic sitting on every foot of every beach around the world. [2]

Litter Hurts!

Trash in our environment hurts our health and animals because it leaves behind chemicals and tiny pieces of plastic. Each year, over 1 million land animals and 100 million sea animals die because they eat or get stuck in pieces of trash. For humans, those chemicals and pieces of plastic can get in our air and water. They can even get into the soil where we grow our food. [3]

Litter is Contagious!

When people see others throw trash on the ground, it makes them think it’s ok to do it too. When you “Adopt a Spot”, you help keep it clean, make less garbage, and teach others not to leave trash on the streets. [4]

Why Trash is an Environmental Justice Issue

Communities with higher average incomes tend to have more waste hauling and sanitation services than those with lower average incomes making litter an environmental justice issue. People in underserved communities are more likely to live amongst trash, and the litter that accumulates in these areas can have serious health effects. Communities that are underserved are more likely to be affected by microplastics, harmful pieces of plastic that harm oceans and wildlife, because the food they eat is more likely to be contaminated by microplastics, creating a health hazard. In addition to the physical problems, studies have also shown that litter can have a negative psychological impact on humans due to the emotional connection people have with nature. It is important to make sure that all communities have the resources to remove litter.

Watch these two short videos to learn why it’s important to keep your campus clean!

Think About It!

Pre-Activity Questions

  • Describe places in your school or community where you see a lot of litter.
  • What kinds of litter do you see? What are the most common types?
  • Why do you think these items become litter so often?
  • Why do you think you may sometimes look past litter when you see it?

Take Action:
How to LAUNCH Adopt-A-Spot

Follow the steps below to set up a successful Adpot-A-Spot Campaign at your school! Need help? Contact us!

Step 1: Assign Roles

Step 2: Map It Out

Look at a map of your school or neighborhood. Make a list of areas that are full of litter and can be “up for adoption”.

It’s amazing how much more people care about something once they’ve given it a name. Just like you would name a pet, naming “your” spot can build a real feeling of ownership and pride. (Plus, it’s fun!)

Step 3: Prepare Your Materials

Gather your litter collection supplies and choose an accessible location where they can be stored.


  • Garden Gloves
  • Trash Grabbers
  • Buckets
  • Bags for trash and recycling
  • Clipboards with printed litter trackers for each team
  • Writing utensils

Step 4: Make a Schedule

Decide a time to begin cleaning the litter in your spots. Set up a schedule to check on your spot and keep it clean daily, weekly, or monthly depending on what your spot needs.

  • Determine the start and end dates of your campaign. If it is ongoing, plan to check in from time to time to monitor your progress.
  • Use our Adopt-A-Spot Team Organizer to help keep your team organized.
  • Remember to keep your team safe!

Tag Your Crew & Their Work!
Take pictures of your team working in “your” spot. Everyone loves to see themselves and their friends in action. It’s a great way to build a sense of belonging and community. Create a unique hashtag or social media page for your photos.

Celebrate The “Treasures!”
You never know what strange and unexpected items a litter pick-up will uncover. Keep a “treasures” list and read the list periodically. Being a litter-buster has a fun side!

Step 5: Track Your Impact

Each group that has a spot should track their progress with our Adopt-A-Spot Litter Tracker. Collect sheets weekly to keep track of your impact.

What’s Being Collected?
Take note if certain items are littered more than others, or at different times of the year – like fun-size candy wrappers after Halloween. Are there things you could do to reduce these items?
Recycle or compost as much of the waste as you can. (Contact your city or waste hauler to find out more).

Make it a Competition
Create a leader board or use the Litterati app to track your litter pick up to see who picks up the most. Offer a prize for the winning person, team, or classroom!

Reflection Questions

How’d It Go?

  • What were some things that went well during your project?
  • What could you do to make your pickups even better next time?
  • Which items of litter did you find the most of?

Report Students’ Impact

Congratulations!! You’ve implemented Adopt a Spot! Don’t let all that hard work go unnoticed. Submit your results by clicking the button below.

Project ongoing? No problem! Let us know what you’ve done so far. 

By reporting your impact, Grades of Green can:

  • CELEBRATE and elevate your students’ hard work and success. 
  • Offer our programs FREE for all students across the globe. 
  • AWARD stipends and certificates to hard-working educators and students.

Please take a few minutes to submit your results. Thank you!

Congrats on completing the Adopt-a-Spot Eco-Toolkit! 

Did you enjoy this toolkit? Find your next project here