CleanSwellPCS uses data cards during Clean Your Streams Day to track not only trash, but trends in trash.  CYS volunteers use the data cards to indicate the specific type, quantity, and volume of marine debris that they pick up. After PCS staff receives them back, we carefully configure the total data from the day into a global waterway cleanup program, through our partners at Ocean Conservancy.  Ocean Conservancy is an international non-profit who uses data from groups like PCS to effect personal and political change in the interest of clean water for humans and wildlife.

The numbers don’t lie – sometimes the biggest impact is the seeing the total pounds of trash in black and white that CYS volunteers are able to pick up in a three-hour span. The total number helps us show the prevalence of marine debris in our local waterways and gauge whether litter is overall improving, remaining the same, or getting better.  However, we can also break down the data to understand what is going on at specific sites such as illegal dumping, dead wildlife, single-use plastic items, etc.  Data cards serve as an educational tool to effect real change.  Clean Your Streams Day is a critical program in the reduction of marine debris, but also the prevention of it through education.  

Clean Your Streams doesn’t have to only last a day!  The Ocean Conservancy has developed a free app – Clean Swell, that works as an electronic data card.  Next time you’re out at a site and it is less than pristine, you can pull up the app, pick up the trash, and automatically log it into the International Coastal Conservancy database (the same one we use for CYS!).  You can see what other groups are finding, who else is doing a cleanup nearby or in another country.  Technology helps connect us as we all struggle to support healthy rivers, lakes, and oceans.  Consider downloading Clean Swell and track your trash or treasure!