Plastic soup: animals become entangled in it and their stomachs are full of it. And we consume a credit card's worth of plastic every week. In the Plastic Spotter citizen science project, residents and researchers are studying the plastic in the canals together. But we want to clean up the mess too. With new canoes, volunteers will be able to take to the water to clean up the canals. Your donation will help support these clean-up activities. Together we can make our water plastic free!
The ingredients of the plastic soup also come from Leiden. Plastic bags, candy wrappers, chip bags, bottles: they all end up in the canals and find their way to the sea. Auke-Florian Hiemstra, who is researching plastic in coot nests at the Centre for Environmental Sciences, is one of the coordinators of the project. He calls on everyone to participate and contribute: 'We are learning more and more about the effects of plastic on nature, and tackling this problem at its source will save a lot of trouble further down the chain. As Plastic Spotters, we will map how much plastic is floating through Leiden, where it originates and how it finds its way to the sea. And not only that: before it reaches the sea, we want to fish as much plastic as possible out of the canal. With your donation, we can launch the canoe fleet!'
In order to remove plastic waste from the environment and prevent it from reappearing, it is important to know how the plastic spreads. The Crowdwater app makes it quick and easy to record how much plastic there is in the water in your area. Just take a picture and indicate how much plastic you see or whether the canal is clean. We will use this data for scientific research into how plastic is transported through our waterways. Download the app from www.plasticspotter.nl.
Research with residents
The Plastic Spotter research is the result of a call for research questions by the Citizen Science Lab in early 2019. It’s the 444th anniversary of Leiden University and one of the ways we are celebrating this is with citizen science: research that researchers and the public carry out together to gain new knowledge. During the call, it became clear that plastic is a hot topic with the people of Leiden. Various organisations and initiatives are therefore working on the project, including Wageningen University, TNO, Stichting Onder Water in Leiden, Coastbusters and Canal Cups.
We need your help for the project! Your donation will fund the materials needed to clean up the plastic in the canal. With your help, we will make the canals cleaner and reduce the impact we in our city have on plastic soup in our seas.
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Perch entangled in plastic oranges net, found in the Nieuwe Rijn (photo: Auke-Florian Hiemstra).