Why Do A Litter Index?
To effectively fight litter, we need information about where and what it is in our community. Where is it accumulating? Where did it originate? This can be difficult for city workers to quantify, especially when they are overburdened with keeping it picked up. The Litter Index can provide valuable information to those in charge of fighting litter and can help local governments effectively manage resources and create policies to keep litter off our streets and out of our waterways. Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful is the lead agency working on litter abatement in Athens, Georgia, and is looking forward to getting the entire community involved in more thoroughly mapping and quantifying litter in Athens-Clarke County. Having many eyes on all areas of Athens will be essential for understanding the issue and creating solutions for a cleaner and more beautiful community
Why Use Debris Tracker?
Debris Tracker is a free app used by citizen scientists around the world to record geospatial data on litter. To date, Debris Tracker volunteers have submitted data on over 3 million items around the globe to an open access database, which can be used by community scientists, researchers, policymakers, and other decision makers to explore global or local data on plastic pollution. While we know the plastic pollution problem doesn’t start in the ocean, we don’t know what, why, or how litter enters the environment from our communities. We need community scientists to help us find the missing piece of the puzzle.
KACCB's 2023 Litter Index
Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful is excited to partner with UGA's Debris Tracker to monitor litter in Athens. To participate, volunteers should track items using the Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful +UGA list. See our google map of survey sites or download a PDF of the maps. Volunteers are asked to collect litter and log data from a 100 M by 1 M transect. Participants can track individually or in teams and log as they go or count and upload information at the end of the session. Interested in seeing the results? Anyone can access the datasets from the Debris Tracker.
Questions? Call 706-613-3501 ext. 7872 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidelines for Tracking Litter
- Record items that are over 2.5 cm (or 1 in) in diameter.
- If the item is fragmented but you can tell what it originally was, log it as the original item. This will help us identify what products are sources of litter. For example, log a piece of a chip wrapper as a plastic food wrapper rather than a fragment.
- If the brand of the item is identifiable, tap on the icon to open the description box. Use the description box to add in the brand name.
- If you come across an item you’re not familiar with, use the “Other” item and add a description of the item.
- When you’re done tracking, continue to the mobile survey to answer a few short questions about the type of sampling event, time spent collecting, and the number of volunteers. You can also add photos to your log and share on social media to encourage others to get involved.
Find a safe place where you can collect data along a roadside, sidewalk, or other walkable area where litter often accumulates. For example, this might be a pathway on the side of a road, between a roadway and sidewalk, or along a walkway in the park. Follow the pathway generally - you don’t have to travel in a straight line. If the path turns, you turn.
From the edge of the pathway, visually estimate 1 m (about 3 ft) in width covering the area where litter accumulates. This is about the length from the center of your chest to the fingertips of your outstretched arm. Use Debris Tracker to record all litter items present in your 1 m wide transect. Track data for 100 M or a minimum of 30 minutes in your selected location. Accumulation Areas
If you’re cleaning up an area with a lot of litter where you can’t conduct a transect, here are options for getting organized:
- Clean As You Go: Track in pairs and have one person log items in Debris Tracker while the other partner cleans up - this generates the most robust geospatial litter data!
- Clean First, Log Later: Sometimes it may be easier to pick up all the litter and then sort and count what you found all at once. While this doesn’t generate point-specific data on where litter is found, it can still be valuable in identifying broad patterns. If you’re in the same location where you collected the litter, you can sort and log the data in the Debris Tracker app. If you’re sorting in a different location than where you’ve collected litter, log in to your account on debristracker.org and select “Manually upload data.” You can enter the quantity and type of items you’ve found - just like in the app - and then select the location where the data was collected on a map. Like data from the app, manually uploaded data is part of Debris Tracker’s open database that is free and publicly accessible.