Create a Cleaner and Healthier California Coast By Practicing Leave No Trace

There is no place on Earth like the Northern California Coast. Whether this is your hundredth visit or your first time (welcome!), you will experience something incredible. You may not realize this, but you are essential to protecting this unique place. When we visit coastal areas, we often don’t come empty-handed. All of our single-use trash items add up very quickly. Each year, tens of thousands of pounds of litter are left behind on the California coastline, causing dire ecological damage.
By practicing Leave No Trace we all benefit from:

  • Healthier coastal ecosystems and wildlife
  • Vibrant wildlife on land and sea
  • More enjoyable outdoor spaces for everyone to share

The Cleaner California Coast initiative is managed by the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC) in partnership with Leave No Trace, Marin County Parks, Sonoma County Tourism, Sonoma County Regional Parks, California State Parks, the National Park Service, federally and non-federally recognized tribes, Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Visit Mendocino.

Practicing Leave No Trace in Coastal Communities

Know Before You Go

Repackaging foods or liquids into reusable containers reduces litter along the coastline.

Not all areas along the coast have trash cans. Bring an easy-to-carry bag and safely pack out all your trash, until you find an available trash, recycling or compost can.

Trash, recycling, and compost cans in all three counties look different! The colors of trash, recycling, and compost cans may differ. Look for labels and read signage.

Trash Your Trash

Trash hurts wildlife, adds plastic to the ecosystem, and contaminates the coastal environment. Pack out everything you bring and consider picking up other litter to leave the place better than you found it.

Litter from overflowing trash, recycling, or compost cans can be dangerous for wildlife and may be blown away by the wind. If a trash can is full, don’t add to the problem. Take your trash with you until you can dispose of it properly – which means taking it home with you.

Discarded fishing lines and hooks cause unnecessary harm to birds and other aquatic animals, and an accidentally swallowed fishing hook can lead to suffering and death.

What To Do With Poop

Human waste contaminates the outdoors. Going to the bathroom on the beach or by the side of the road or trail can result in unsanitary conditions and possible area closures.

Carry the diaper to the nearest available trash can. Not only does human waste pollute the environment, but disposable diapers may take up to 450 years to decompose.

Pick up pet waste and dispose of it in a trash can. Compared to waste from wildlife or grazing animals, pet waste contains harmful bacteria that pollute the natural environment and may cause illness.

Be Considerate of Coastal Communities

If cans in parks are overflowing, take your trash all the way home with you. Waste services in coastal communities are not equipped to support trash, recycling and compost deposited by visitors passing through town.

Some coastal towns and rural areas may not have readily available public restrooms.

Want to learn even more?

Take the Leave No Trace 101 Course to gain the foundational skills and concepts that protect any ecosystem, including the coast.


We Need Your Help

Digital spaces are an effective way to reach visitors. If you can, fill out the form, download the toolkit, and share with those you get outdoors with.


Explore the Counties

Want to learn more? Look at some resources and programs happening across founding partners Sonoma, Marin, and Mendocino Counties.

Join Us In Person


It takes a village

Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties and the Leave No Trace organization have launched this coordinated campaign to provide visitor education and outreach to reduce the negative visitation impacts in coastal environments and communities across the three counties.

Join Us

Want to learn more? Better yet, want to do more? Fill out the form below and let’s talk.