Getting Help

Looking for answers is more than just looking for trash. It also means talking to people. Often, people who live near the beaches know the plastics better than we do. They can help us answer questions as we do beach clean‑ups.

Plastic on the beaches doesn’t mean that local people are to blame. It can travel far, pushed by waves and ocean currents. That’s why we go out on boats to find plastics in the water.

Justine traveled to the Arctic to find out more about ocean plastics.

I record what trash I find and where it is, using the Marine Debris Tracker app. 

Putting our data in one central place helps build the “plastics profile” of each beach. It also allows us to share our data. Anyone in the world who is interested in our research can look up our findings. This free app can be used by anyone. Even you. Tools like this are part of a movement called citizen science. Anyone can go out and collect data, too. By working together, we can come up with a better picture of the problem.

Making a Record

From month to month, we build a record of what we find. But we don’t write everything in our notebooks. Instead, we use our cell phones. We report what we find on an app called Marine Debris Tracker.

I keep careful records when I’m working in the field.

Even under a microscope, it can be hard to identifyplastic trash. 

Moving Forward

The plastics problem feels big, and it is. Some people think it can’t be solved. But we do have the power to reduce our plastics problem.

We can all make a difference. We can walk along beaches, picking up pollution. We can avoid using single‑use plastics like straws, bags, and containers.

I don’t mind picking up trash. Because in doing so, I am working toward a solution. You can help, too.

Under The Microscope

Live Smarter on Our Planet

 Reducing human pressure on our planet is important! The National Geographic Society hopes to reduce the amount of plastic entering our rivers by 30 percent by 2030.