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Become a citizen scientist, help our planet

AN innovative way to support citizen science efforts and contribute to eliminating plastic waste on beaches has been launched by The Beach Co-op, a non-profit organisation which advocates changes in consumption and waste management habits

This comes as even during lockdown, significant volumes of plastic waste were found along South Africa’s coastlines – and most of it originating from land-based litter.

The Dirty Dozen Cleanup™ Toolkit, designed by Prof. Peter Ryan from the University of Cape Town, tracks 12 commonly found plastic litter items around South Africa.

This toolkit is designed to be used by individuals or groups and the goal is to collect rigorous data that supports the call for change to the way consumers buy, use and discard plastics. It is also to identify the source of the litter.

How to get going

. Download the Marine Debris Tracker App on IOS or Android (visit https://www.thebeachcoop.org/dirty-dozen-cleanup-app/).

. Select “Tracking” and choose “The Beach Co-op”.

. Log your Dirty Dozen items as you clean up the beach.

. Press submit

. There is also an option to download the Dirty Dozen Data sheet and complete it online or print it out and fill it in the old-fashioned way.

Note that while you can add additional items to the list, these are not passed on for analysis. When the cleanup is finished, and the data sheet is complete:

- Decant bags with less waste into consolidated bags.

- Count and log the number of bags collected.

- Take a photograph of the people and bags.

- Submit this data – either through the app or on the online form.

What do you need

Besides a passion for keeping the environment clean and a desire to contribute to citizen science, you will need the app on your phone or a data sheet, a pen/pencil, cellphone (camera) and bags to collect the litter.

Remember to be safe – don’t wander off alone and follow Covid-19 precautions between yourself and fellow citizen scientists!


The Dirty Dozen plastic polluters found in our rivers and on beaches. Graphic:THE BEACH CO-OP

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