The New Zealand based charity focuses on waterway and coastal restoration with the help of tens of thousands of volunteers. By running community events and education on marine and freshwater pollution and its remedies, Sustainable Coastlines provides New Zealanders with the tools and inspiration they need to care for and restore their local rivers and coastlines.
Sustainable Coastlines runs three major programmes. The first, ‘Love your Coast,’ consists of large scale beach clean-up activities and educational initiatives focused on preventing coastal litter pollution. The second, ‘Love your Water’ programme, heads inland to help communities restore the ecosystems of their rivers and streams through tree planting, maintenance, education, and citizen science led monitoring to improve water quality before it reaches the coast.
The 3Mgives grant will contribute towards the third Sustainable Coastlines programme, Litter Intelligence. This innovative programme trains students and citizen scientists in the collection of litter data, providing powerful insights into the litter problem that can aid in creating sustainable solutions to eliminate waterway and coastal litter pollution.
Launched in 2018, the Litter Intelligence programme has gained traction by collecting data that meets the rigorous scientific standards required for national, regional, and international reporting. By working to a United Nations Environmental Program/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Methodology and receiving support from the Ministry for Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund, as well as with Statistics New Zealand and the Department of Conservation, the programme aids in building a deeper understanding of the litter problem facing Aotearoa and can scale up to regional or even international reporting.
The 3Mgives grant will help the Litter Intelligence programme to scale in another way, by providing technical upgrades to the website that allow for data to be uploaded and insights generated from freshwater and terrestrial litter monitoring activities as well as coastal. “The database and the website can potentially receive data from all monitored landscapes and give us a really comprehensive picture of the litter problem in Aotearoa.” says programme manager Shawn-Elise Tierney, “We can measure and report on what materials are the worst offenders and over time, can see the impact of policy changes like banning plastic bags.”
Sustainable Coastlines provides training to their ‘citizen scientists’ which generally consist of school groups, community members, corporate groups, or local residents who are equally as concerned about the condition of their beach or river. By equipping ‘citizen scientists’ with the skills and tools they require for accurate monitoring and ongoing support, data can be collected over time to record litter- related trends. Sustainable Coastlines also train and support teachers and other trainers to aid in spreading word about the positive effects of monitoring and reporting on litter and water pollution, and how this will inevitably help to protect and restore surrounding aquatic environments.
Litter data is openly and publicly available through the purpose-built Litter Intelligence digital platform, which welcomes politicians, business leaders, students, scientists, writers, and researchers to obtain litter-related data and information.
Through the invention of their programme, Sustainable Coastlines and their supporters can continue their passionate role in working towards pollution and litter free ecosystems, while inspiring Kiwi’s across New Zealand to participate. With support from 3M, Sustainable Coastlines’ ultimate goal of collectively addressing and solving plastic and litter pollution while collecting and publishing reliable science-based data becomes more achievable.