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your people picking up trash outside

Plastic Reduction Project

Reduce Single Use UNF - animated trashThe University of North Florida and Eckerd College received a $150,000 award from the NOAA Marine Debris Program to reduce single-use plastic consumption and foster long-term pro-environmental behaviors among undergraduates in coastal communities. The goal is to reduce generation of marine debris in those areas over time. Learn more about the research project by visiting the plastic pollution article.


The goal of the project is to educate the community about the harmful results of using single-use plastics, and how students, faculty, and staff can reduce their plastic consumption by choosing to refuse.

Planned Activities

Plastic Reduction Challenges

The challenges will directly encourage participants to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic. Participants will use an innovative smart-phone based app that will tracks individuals as they refuse and use of single-use plastic. The app is a critical platform for delivery of the Challenge as it simplifies record keeping and provides interim feedback for the participant, motivates behavior change with deliberate icon styling and scoring based on environmental impact of each item, and compiles results from all participants for local (or even global) community-wide analysis of single-use plastic reduction via Challenges.

Education and Outreach Activities

A number of education and outreach activities will planned throughout the two-year project. These activities are designed to raise awareness about marine debris, facilitate understanding of the connections between actions and impacts in the marine environment, and encourage behavior change. These activities will include both formal (e.g., courses or modules) and informal (e.g., lectures, workshops, cleanups open to voluntary participation by members of the community) education experiences.

Past and Upcoming Events

oceana logo

Single-Use Plastics 101

A virtual workshop was held Jan. 20 to discuss single-use plastics and their impact on the coastal and marine ecosystems. The workshop featured Catherine Uden, campaign organizer for Oceana in South Florida. Oceana is the world’s largest international non-profit organization that focuses solely on protecting the oceans through science-based policy work.


A recording of the workshop is available on YouTube.

four women on the beach with buckets and pickers

Community Cleanup

Date: Saturday, Jan. 30 at 10 a.m.

Location: Palmetto Leaves Regional Park - South Entrance


Students, faculty and staff joined the Environmental Center at the Palmetto Leaves Regional Park - South Entrance for a community cleanup. Volunteers collected 12 bags of trash, 26 lbs. of plastic, four tires and other miscellaneous debris. Visit the Environmental Center Facebook page for photos from the event!

two men picking up trash on a wooden walkway

Community Cleanup

Date: Saturday, Feb. 27 at 9 a.m.

Location: Northbank Riverwalk Kayak Launch


Students, faculty and staff joined the Environmental Center at the Northbank Riverwalk for a community cleanup. Volunteers collected 10 bags of trash, mostly consisting of Sytrofoam, and other miscellaneous debris. Visit the Environmental Center Facebook page for photos from the event!


three people picking up trash on a walkway

Community Cleanup

Date: Saturday, March 27 at 10 a.m.

Location: Jacksonville Beach Pier (parking at 601 Ocean Front N, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250)


Join the Environmental Center, Public Health Alumni Network (PHAN) and Surfrider UNF for a community cleanup at the Jacksonville Beach Pier. Volunteers will collect trash and debris found along the beach and parking lots, with a focus on single-use plastic items.


Prior to the cleanup, the Public Health Alumni Network will be hosting a yoga class on the beach at 9 a.m. Capacity for this part of the event is limited and registration is required! Yoga participants must bring their own yoga mat and/or towel.

Event Registration