Mandy Hinzmann and Doris Knoblauch (both Ecologic Institute) each accompanied a class in October 2022 with the Plastic Pirates, a Citizen Science campaign to collect data on (plastic) waste pollution in rivers. The students take on the role of scientists and collect, sort and catalogue litter according to scientific methods. The results are checked and incorporated into a large study.
Mandy Hinzmann accompanied class 5b of Potsdam's Bornstedter Feld primary school on 17 October 2022 to the "Neuer Garten", a historic park from which the banks of the river Havel can be easily reached. Despite the idyll at first sight, the children found a lot of rubbish at second sight – especially cigarette butts, plastic packaging of sweets and snacks, bottle caps and beer bottles. For the 10- and 11-year-olds, it quickly became clear that most of the rubbish came from park visitors who had enjoyed drinks and food on the riverbank or smoked there and simply left their rubbish behind. In the bushes behind the paths, the Potsdam plastic pirates discovered another hiding place with faded plastic rubbish and glass bottles. The rubbish had probably been there for a very long time.
On 21 October 2022, the 4th graders of the Freudberg Community School in Berlin campaigned for less plastic in the environment. They were accompanied to the river Fenngraben in Grunewald by Doris Knoblauch. The school kids collected a wide variety of plastic waste, sorted it, counted it and wrote down the results. The children discovered a lot, not only plastic waste, but also mushrooms, frogs and baby mice. One highlight was the microplastic net that they lowered from a bridge into the middle of the Fenngraben for 60 minutes so that they could also record the amount of rubbish floating by. But: Long faces when the nets were taken out! Nothing at all visible to the naked eye. Actually good news for the environment. The children were particularly engaged in interviewing passers-by. They all agreed that environmental protection is important. The pupils could only consent!
The results of the Citizen Science campaign, which is now taking place not only in Germany but throughout Europe, are published on the Plastic Pirates – Go Europe! website.