The Power of Maps – Using Maps to reveal and raise awareness of global plastic pollution
Posted by 5 Gyres Institute | California, United States
Maps today are numerous and can be found on many different platforms, but plastic pollution, in its many shapes and sizes, still doesn’t have a global map, especially a map that includes land. Over the past 10 years, much attention has been on global ocean plastic pollution (an example of a interactive map on this is shown here: http://app.dumpark.com/seas-of-plastic-2/#). The 5 Gyres Institute was the first to share these estimates for the sea surface. Today, the tide has turned to accept that we cannot solve this problem without looking upstream and trying to understand sources on land. Also, in order to solve a problem, one must visualize it. Unfortunately today, only those aware of the issue of plastic pollution know what maps exist- but what about those who aren’t aware of the problem and need to visually see it to believe it? Maybe it even affects their backyard and they don’t even know it is out there. We suggest that a map platform such as Google, help us build a layer that would show/pin types of plastic pollution using crowdsourced data (similar to what Litterati.org is building). Google could also help raise awareness by promoting this new feature on their homepage during Environment month (April) for example. This map could one day serve as a means to influence policy and mitigation strategies at both municipal, regional, and national levels.