Plotting Plastic Pollution

Thursday, 10th August 2023


Technology is really leading the way in the fight against climate change. In addition to creating alternatives that can help save our planet, technology has also helped to get people involved with the cause.

A great example of this is initiatives like the Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count. This has been hugely successful at engaging an audience in citizen science (scientific research conducted in part by amateurs, i.e. members of the general public). In 2018 nearly half a million bees were logged and added to the Great British Bee Count survey by members of the public.

And the data collected is quite interesting: over 50 species were identified, 73% of bees were spotted in gardens. But it’s when you see the data dynamically presented on an interactive map with the ability to switch off layers or data or zoom into specific areas that really brings it to life. This is what well-designed and effective use of GIS (geographical Information Services) does. It makes interrogation and analysis of data or patterns of data a compelling part of geographical enquiry and understanding.

So, combine the two in an educational context: interesting data and a feeling of ownership – a person being part of the collection process of the data itself – and you achieve highly engaging, purposeful learning.

Kids Against Plastic have worked with Esri to develop a GIS data logging app and online analysis dashboard designed to encourage students, young people, families… anyone… to get involved in the collection of data that will help map-out plastic pollution, particular single-use plastic. It’s easy to use, is free and can be used online or offline using a smartphone, tablet or any other device that has a web browser.

Some of the data collected so far to-date:

  • 126 litter picks
  • 20, 204 pieces of plastic removed from the environment of which:
  • 1, 130 were plastic bottles
  • 851 were straws
  • 526 were coffee cups
  • 772 were plastic bags
Edu KAP GIS mapping

We’re hoping schools looking for current and topical data to analyse, with an interest in contributing to the data sets themselves in a citizen science approach, might get onboard and use the Kids Against Plastic GIS tools we make readily available.

What else can you do?

In addition to using Kids Against Plastic’s GIS tools, you can also sign up to become a Plastic Clever School. 

Discover the World Education and Kids Against Plastic are working with schools across the country who want to take the small but significant steps necessary to reduce single use plastic in their school.

Schools who sign up will not only get all the support they need to make these changes, but will also receive free resources to help them spread the word and get the whole school passionate about becoming Plastic Clever.

For more information and to sign up, visit our Plastic Clever page. 


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