Map the World’s Waste
Perhaps the single most important thing we can do to get rid of illegal garbage is to know where it is. Picking up litter on your own is great, and we encourage you to do it every time you see it.
But the amount of garbage we deal with necessitates a coordinated plan of attack. To really clean up that much trash, we need a plan to get rid of it efficiently.
With today’s technology, it’s easy. All you need is a smartphone and the ability to download a free app. During mapping, you don’t even need reception. Once the location of the garbage is mapped, it will be possible for us to see the locations, type, and size of the most troubling dumping areas around the world, allowing us to focus our efforts on areas overwhelmed by illegal garbage.
The importance of mapping
We know there’s trash lying around. But in order to clean it up, we first have to get a clear picture of the situation. Mapping can give us the exact location, amount, and type of garbage. This is essential to organize the logistics and the handling for cleanup days worldwide. After it’s gone, this data is great for tracking our progress, and keeping tabs on these dump sites for the future.
But that’s not all. Perhaps the most important reason to map is to spread the message. If seeing is believing, then looking at a virtual map of overflowing trash sites will help open our eyes to the problem. And, hopefully, inspire people around the world to join us and do something about it.
Every year, 20 million tons of garbage is added to our oceans, 80% of it from mainland waste. That’s like dumping over 710,000 Boeing 737 airplanes into the ocean…each year.
Getting an exact measurement of how much waste has ended up in nature is difficult. But think about this. Out of the 1.3 billion tonnes of household waste generated per year, only about 258-368 million tons of trash end up in one of the 50 largest dumpsites. Where is the rest of it?
We are living in an era full of trash, and it’s clear the problem is massive, growing constantly and varies considerably by region. To get a handle on it, we need to locate and identify illegal dump sites worldwide. With this simple, free, waste mapping app you can help us take an important first step in cleaning it all up.
The best time to map
If the spirit moves you, by all means, map at any time of the year!
But, the best time to see the whole picture is when the days are longer and no snow, rain, or thick vegetation is in the way. Countries in the Northern Hemisphere prefer either April–May when snow has melted, it’s warm, and vegetation is not too thick, or September–November when the warmer countries have cooled a bit. As with other Let’s Do It! activities, figure out what time of year will work best for your country, climate and region, and organize your actions then.
Grab some friends and get going
Before you map…
- Communicate with other volunteers. Contact your country’s Let’s Do It! team to see if there are other mappers in your area. If not, engage your friends, coworkers, or family. Work with your municipality, school clubs, neighborhood associations, or other local groups to get more volunteers and help spread the word.
- Figure out where you’re going. Use a paper map, a GPS, your phone, or all of them! Make sure the camera you are using has the capability to upload pictures. If you’re in unfamiliar territory, ask locals about potential garbage dumps, road conditions and directions.
- Get a buddy, or two or twenty. The more the merrier. Never hunt for garbage by yourself. Besides, it’s much more fun (and safe!) as a team.
- Divide the areas so volunteers don’t overlap. Make it a competition. Whoever finds the least amount of trash buys the first round at the end of the day! (Or, whatever you might be into!)
While you map…
- Search on foot, a mountain bike, a horse, an off-road vehicle or 4×4…anything that can get you around efficiently.
- When you find illegal trash, use your map or phone to pinpoint the location. Estimate the size and type of garbage, either using TrashOut’s simple methods, or write it down and make a note of it on your map. Take a picture of the trash, even if you aren’t using TrashOut to do that.
- If it’s small, pick it up yourself and move on.
- Be mindful that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Be aware of local rules and regulations regarding private property, wilderness areas, or government land.
- Don’t get lost, stay safe.
- Have fun! (Seriously…)
After you map…
- In case you’re not using TrashOut, delegate the uploading of information to one or two of your most responsible group members.
- If you have some good ideas or tips, created a memorable moment or have an interesting story from your mapping day, please share it with us!
- Be proud of yourself! (Seriously…)