I’d like to bring a really important citizen science project to your attention today. As you may know, I am very passionate about plastics in the ocean and it is often a huge source of emotional stress when I begin to think about it.
That being said, I often feel like I should be doing more than I am doing to help save the planet because we are running out of time. Being in school and sitting at my desk in my small office everyday, I find it hard to take the strong activist position that I would like to. So when I came across The Plastic Tide’s project, I got very excited because I finally feel like I am making a tiny impact and helping in some small way, which is extremely important.
The Plastic Tide has created an algorithm that works to identify plastics on coastlines with the goal of determining exactly how much plastics and other man-made debris are actually there. They are seeking people who will examine high-resolution photos of beaches and flag the plastic debris that appears in the photos. This will thus, teach the algorithm how to identify plastic debris, so that it can be used at a more broad scale. It is purely a citizen science effort, which is even more special, as it gives so many people, like me, the opportunity to participate in something they care deeply about, even if it is in just some small way.
Of course, it is not a project that works to solve systemic issues with the creation of plastic debris, however, the quantification aspect is something very important because I believe there is a lot of strength that can come from numbers.
I believe that projects like these are very important in raising awareness and encouraging participation of the people. If people can understand it, they can care about it and fight for the change that the world needs because ultimately, politicians do not enact the needed change, passionate people do.
If you wish to participate in the project, you can do so through their website (link above) or through Zooniverse (as I did). Zooniverse is a platform for all kinds of citizen science projects, so you can explore it and find other projects that mean something to you.