U of T Trash Team

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss The Lorax

The U of T Trash Team, co-founded in 2017, is a science-based community outreach group. We combine science, education and community outreach locally to increase waste literacy and reduce plastic pollution globally. Our local projects use research to inform policy and management, and education and community outreach to increase waste literacy, engage the public and implement effective solutions. Each project is treated as a case study where best practices can be replicated in relevant regions to mitigate waste both locally and globally. There is no one-size-fits-all solution—global diversity breeds a variety of relevant solutions. Our ultimate goal is to inspire an assortment of solutions resulting in the global reduction of waste and healthier habitats for wildlife and people.

Our Goal: Increase waste literacy in the community and reduce plastic pollution in our ecosystems.

Our Mission: 1) Connect people and increase literacy concerning material  consumption, waste and plastic pollution with fun, creative and practical actions. 2) Use education, community outreach and scientific research to deliver evidence-based solutions to decrease solid waste and promote a circular economy.

Our Vision: We envision a fun and engaged waste-literate community where citizens are actively working to protect people, wildlife and the planet through the intersection of science, policy, community engagement and innovation that promote zero-waste lifestyles.

Our Values: We are team-oriented, collaborative, fun, creative, positive, inclusive, respectful, supportive and non-judgmental. IN OUR COMMUNITY EVERYONE IS TREATED AS AN EQUAL, AND WITH RESPECT.

Who We Are


With a small support staff, our volunteers fuel the organization with new ideas, positive energy, passion and talent. They are empowered to co-create meaningful experiences and programs on waste literacy. Our volunteers are made up of undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, early-career researchers, and members from outside the U of T community. Our volunteers are predominantly young adults, gaining experience and expertise to be the next leaders in our environmental movement.

Founding Members and Program Leads

Chelsea Rochman is the Head of Operations and the Program Lead of Scientific Programming and Application. She has been researching the sources, sinks and ecological implications of plastic debris for more than a decade. In addition to research, Chelsea works to translate science beyond academia. For example, she presented her work to the United Nations General Assembly and at the US State Department. Moreover, she has served as an expert witness for both the Canadian and United States government.

Susan Debreceni is the Program Lead of Volunteer Engagement and Community Programs. Susan received her BSc in Zoology with a minor in Psychology from the University of Guelph and a certificate of Ecosystem Management Technology through Fleming College. She also received a certificate in the Fundamentals of Volunteer Management through Humber College. She is passionate about connecting individuals with meaningful opportunities and spent over a decade supporting a national network of community volunteers through the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Rafaela Gutierrez is the Program Lead of Social Science and Educational Programs. Rafaela received her PhD in Science and Technology Policy from the Institute of Geosciences, UNICAMP, Brazil. Rafaela Gutierrez is a social scientist with expertise in waste policy. She has a keen interest in up- and downstream processes for plastic recycling. Over the past decade, she has studied, advocated and worked with low-income communities in Brazil focusing on how to improve the socio-productive integration of waste pickers into formal recycling streams.


Cassandra Sherlock is a Community Outreach and Research Specialist. She received her Honours BSc from U of T in Spring 2020, specializing in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. During undergraduate, she was a Research Assistant in the Rochman Lab, assisting with projects and leading her own honours thesis project investigating microplastics in tree swallow nestlings. Cassandra focuses on our Solutions-based Research programs, specifically Fighting Floatables in the Toronto Harbour and the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup.

  • Interested in joining our team, participating in our outreach events or simply have questions about our team? Contact us.
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  • If you want to provide support for our initiatives via a charitable donation, please click here and provide support to the U of T Trash Team Fund.

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