CITIZEN DATA IS THE KEY TO FIGHTING “TRASH BLINDNESS”

Session Chair: John Rizzo, Let’s Do It Foundation

 This session focuses on the fight against the population’s “trash blindness” that can be fought through massive use of data — more data, more accurate data, more timely data, more visualized data. This is most effective if collected and analyzed through citizen science, from people to people, and openly shared.

There is the potential interface with the Let’s Do It Foundation open trash database platform. People could go into the field, enter data into the database, and then access the database and exchange data, and give feedback. Although many organizations have been collecting trash data for a long time, it is still not enough to tackle the problem. Most people still have “trash blindness” – they do not see the trash on the beach or on the street, and still do not believe or take any interest in the trash statistics.

There are three issues behind “trash blindness”:

1) Data is collected and analyzed in a scientific way. Data and analysis results are not translated into the language that a person from the street can understand. The gap between professionals and public is so significant that it starts to erode the trust about science.

2) The significant lack of data is making the situation worse. If every fact can be disputed, even if people become interested in the information, they will soon be confused about what is right or wrong. People choose the easier way, they ignore every bit of the data.

3) Trash data that is collected by various agencies and NGO’s around the world is not easily shared or accessible to other groups. The bits and pieces of information do not create the full picture, what the world’s trash situation truly is.

There are also three ways to solve the problem:

1) Citizen science. The trust will be gained when scientists work together with citizens. Let’s Do It Foundation has demonstrated that people are more interested when they participate in the collection and analysis of the data. The results are also more understandable, because they are translated into the non-scientific language.

2) Massive collection of the data with the help of public. Members of the general public are not always precise in describing data, but when the data is “crowd-sourced” on a large scale, the data is more accurate data and more up-to-date data. Empowering the citizens does miracles to the overall result. The consolidation of many different data sources also helps significantly.

3) An open trash database platform that is available for any organization to use. The goal is to bring various sets of data together, opening it up, making it comparable and analyzable, and creating the tools that everyone can use.

 

Abstracts

 

Citizen data is the key to fighting “trash blindness”

presenting: John Rizzo (Let’s Do It Foundation, United States); authors: John Rizzo (Let’s Do It Foundation, United States)

Most laypeople still have “trash blindness” – they do not notice trash that they encounter every day take no interest in trash statistics. There are three issues:

1) Data and analysis results are not translated into everyday language. The gap between professionals and public is significant.

2) The lack of data makes it harder to educate about the problem of trash.

3) Trash data collected by agencies and NGO’s around the world is not easily shared or accessible to other groups. The bits and pieces of data do not create a global picture of what the world’s trash situation truly is.

There are three ways to solve the problem:

– Citizen science. Let’s Do It Foundation has shown that people are more interested when they participate in the collection and analysis of data. The results are more understandable because they are translated into non-scientific language.

– Massive collection of data. Lay people are not always precise in describing data, but when the data is “crowd-sourced” on a large scale, it is more accurate and up-to-date. The consolidation of many data sources also helps significantly.

– An open trash database platform available for any organization to use. The goal is to bring various sets of data together, opening it up, making it comparable and analyzable, and creating tools that all can use.

Let’s Do It Foundation is promoting World Cleanup Day on September 15, 2018, when millions of volunteers around the world will come out to collect data and clean up trash. Secondly, Let’s Do It Foundation together with other organizations is building an open global trash database platform. The data comes from many sources, most using ordinary people to collect it. The scientists chip in with their knowledge and strengthen the conclusions. This will result in more data, more understandable data, from around the world.

 

The potential contribution of the World Clean Up Day to Citizen Science and to define strategies to curb and mend the issue

presenting: Enzo Favoino (Let’s Do it Foundation, Estonia); authors: Enzo Favoino (Let’s Do it Foundation, Estonia)

With its initiative on a global clean up (World Clean Up Day), Let’s Do It targets the following goals:

1) Fighting “trash blindness” and get people (and the public opinion) focused on the nature and magnitude of the problem.

2) Collecting data (mostly during the mapping stage which should inform the clean-ups) on nature, frequency, distribution of various waste types; info will subsequently be made available (Citizen Science) to other platforms and related research programmes.

3) Defining post clean up strategies and proposals to promote a more sustainable management of resources and discards (the “Keep it clean plan”) with the overarching principle of “minimising leakage of materials from circular models”. In order to support this, we have also defined a “Waste Index” which sums up key info on waste management and frequency of trash points in various Countries.

On account of its inherent nature of a global movement aiming at involving campaigners from across the world, the collection of data may require a trade-off between representativeness and user-friendliness of the UI of the dedicated app. Also, in a result-oriented approach, one may consider focusing efforts on most sensitive areas which may be considered as largest contributors to dispersion of debris in the environment and water bodies (e.g. riverine areas).

The foregoing will be presented and discussed in order to frame actions required to maximise the added value of one of the largest civic mobilisation events in the history of mankind.

 

Global Alert – Reporting Trash Hotspots In our Waterways

presenting: Doug Woodring (Ocean Recovery Alliance, Hong Kong); authors: Doug Woodring (Ocean Recovery Alliance, Hong Kong)

In many coastal and upstream communities near waterways, local government agencies often do not have the capacity, resources or knowledge to respond with monitoring programs, waterway clean-ups, or trash-capture devices. Plastic pollution is a global challenge, and for scaled improvements, it is critical that we can collectively slow the flow of material out of our waterways before it reaches the sea.

In order to engage and activate communities, local governments and business-sector stakeholders, Ocean Recovery Alliance has developed a citizen-powered global monitoring solution: Global Alert, for reporting trash hotspots near our waters. The high-impact potential of Global Alert rests in two unique innovations for managing this environmental problem: 1) integrated information collection, sharing, and analysis, on a macro scale, helping to initiate cleanups and prevention programs 2) giving a visual snapshot of the situation with datasets that can be downloaded by relevant stakeholder groups. By engaging international citizens, either locally, or when traveling, Global Alert empowers communities to collate, share, and analyze data on floating trash in rivers and on coastlines. These contributions are integrated into the Global Alert database, charting submissions on an online map, describing their nature and intensity, and identifying trends. This allows for immediate sharing of findings and the potential to identify hotspots of activity as they emerge. It also facilitates both the discovery of the pollution source, and the creation of strategies and solutions to manage and pre-empt it, including increased inter-watershed communication and integrated catchment management. In effect, a global “neighborhood watch” for floating trash is created, allowing communities to first measure and then manage the problem.