Launching a new citizen science portal

It has been a long time we observe and meet people that are beach cleaning their little area, the place they go to relax, the spot they get the dog out. In our remote corner, there could be people that do that everyday. They pickup something and then put it in the bin. All together that’s hundreds of kilos, sometimes tons of beach pollution that is removed. In particular in winter when no tourist is around. The foremost idea is that, what we call the “anonymous beach cleaner”, is providing an invaluable service to the society. Without asking anything or minding, she/he will be doing their job silently and regularly. Beyond the obvious good, you have an unpleasant feeling. The fact is people are mending issues generated by other people, often professional activities, on their own time and money and all this totally anonymously. By doing so, the problem is hidden from sight, the responsible of the problem do not face it and finally the people in power are not obliged to take action to solve the root of the problem. Because pollution is rocketing, we have simulated the scenarios of not taking action in our local beaches and that means 5-20t of plastic by 2050 on every single one.

To avoid this worst case scenario, we would like to offer a free tool that beach cleaners can use to record their data. This new portal is accessible through the new research page.

We have noticed that when discussing with authorities or other environmental groups, facing numbers avoid dodging the real issues. If we have a tool where it is easy to upload and visualise data we could make a difference. The idea is to base the recordings on the beach (meaning a continuous and regular bit of coastline) without excessive useless precision, the date it was collected and the weight of pollution recovered. For that you can fill up this form after your beach clean, it takes less than a minute. You can do it on your phone or whatever and it gets recorded in the database.

You also have options to upload multiple beach cleans by sending us the spreadsheets you can download on the submission page. On the same page, you can also download spreadsheets to register a new beach or register a new team and its members.

We have already compiled several datasets from groups and the results are quite impressive, big shout-out at Caithness Beach Cleans and Kik Plastic! We have had promises of much more dataset even outside the UK. Already the graphics are absolutely staggering, I let you appreciate the map of collected weight by beach.

And the statistics by beach of the weight of plastic removed and the extrapolated rate of plastic pollution based on the beach cleans.

We believe that if we can show what each group is doing, people will be more aware of the scale of the problem. All these data are accessible from anywhere and could be integrated into your website easily. You can, for example, filter the data to show only your team or the beaches you like, change the colours, templates, map projection etc. The database is meant to be used and shared, we just try to make it working and friendly to use. Our database is regularly backed up so it also provides safety to your data.

We hope we will receive lots of submission and we can show what the “anonymous” beach cleaners are doing to make our places safer and more beautiful. Thanks for what you do.

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