Another year, another World Clean Up Day. Another 11,343 pieces of litter picked up and tracked, this time across 21 different countries in one day!
On 19th September 2021, hundreds of Patrollers united and joined us in the movement against the litter crisis to mark World Clean Up Day. Although Planet Patrol runs clean ups all year round, this day celebrates the successes of clean-ups to date, and acts as a reminder of the catastrophic effects of litter on our ecosystems.
Our mass-coordinated (and socially-distanced!) litter picks and paddleboarding clean ups took place all over the UK, stretching as far as Amsterdam, Marbella, and Barcelona. Not even COVID stopped thousands of pieces of litter being removed from the ground and our waterways. Our Community Guardians also enjoyed their first World Clean Up Day, organising on land litter picks in their local areas. All in all, we picked up and tracked an incredible 11,343 pieces of litter. People in 21 different countries used the Planet Patrol app, from the US to Costa Rica, to Spain and Sweden.
Measure the problem to manage it
All this data logging – which provides us with valuable information on litter brand, type and distribution – strengthens our existing database and allows us to gain a deeper understanding of this global problem.
So, what purpose does recording your findings actually serve? Well, we need to be able to measure the problem to manage it. Litter picking alone will never solve the crisis, so we must reimagine litter as evidence. By recording the litter we collect by type, brand and amount (the exact location is automatically captured in the app), we can build a global repository of evidence to hold corporations and government to account and find real, tangible solutions. The amount of waste we find is proof of a system failure, but we can use it positively to identify patterns and trends that can help solve it. Tracking and recording litter in the app gives us the chance of addressing this problem from the top down.
Every piece of litter uploaded in the app, from types of packaging to the brand and the amount collected is vital evidence in understanding the source of the problem and, ultimately, using data to call for widespread system change. All data crowdsourced by the general public via the Planet Patrol app is shared with partner researchers at Nottingham University and University of Glasgow to pinpoint hotspots, trends and patterns. It is essential to collect litter data in order to build a clear picture that reflects the reality of the current single use culture and its impact on the environment. It gives Planet Patrol the collateral required to present detailed evidence that can help shape and enforce public policy and induce responsibility from brands.
Currently, 2 million single-use items are used and littered daily in the UK alone. We need to treat every day like World Clean Up Day and we must continue to gather data to enforce a system change from the top.
Join us on Planet Patrol
Planet Patrol reps and Community Guardians all over the UK (and the world!) who continue to run clean ups, so make sure you check out our website to join us. Whether you are into paddleboarding, yoga, parkour, fitness, plogging, we’ve got you covered. And if there is not an activity near you, you can still get involved… all you need to do is download our app and track any litter you see whilst you’re out and about.
We are so grateful for all of the amazing work done by our volunteers so far. We are now extremely close to our next milestone… for 300 thousand pieces of litter to be picked up and logged onto our app! Our ultimate goal is to pick up 1 million pieces of litter.
There is definitely hope for the future as long as we are seeing action taken to implement change.